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' 3V 










THE autobiographical portion of this volume has been 
printed, with some abridgment and with a few verbal 
alterations and corrections, from Mr. Pell's own manu- 

For the Introduction the Editor is responsible. His 
thanks are due to many who have helped him, more 
particularly to Mr. and Mrs. A. J. Pell of Wilburton 
Manor, Miss Emily Vaughan, the Hon. Emily Whin, 
and the Rev. William Bury for suggestions and anec- 
dotes ; and to the Right Hon. James Bryce for leave 
to print the valuable appreciation of his friend which 
is appended to the Introduction. The Editor is well 
aware of the difficulty of describing, in adequate fashion, 
a personality so varied, so original, and so much 
beloved as was that of the subject of this memoir. 
He takes this opportunity of asking for the indulgence 
of Mr. Pell's many friends for the imperfections of the 
picture here portrayed. 



Introduction Appreciation from the Right Hon. James Bryce 
Extract from Northampton Mercury .... pp. xiii-lii 



The Changes of Eighty Years Earliest Home My Godmother 
Earliest School Byng for Middlesex Wilberforce The Parish 
Church Bird-nesting Pinner Care of the Insane Newgate 
Brougham Rugby Coaches pp. 1-31 



School Discipline Charles Matthews and Madame Vestris Dun- 
church Races Rugby Pickwick " Ragging " Matthew Bloxham 
My Father's Death Refreshments on a Journey The Queen's Coro- 
nation A Night in the Park My Radical Uncle Stockingers 
Railways Cattle Droving pp. 32-60 



Bristol Riots Birmingham Rick-burning St. Albans Abbey 
Journey to the Fens A Manor in the Fens Cambridge Football 
Senior Wranglers Prize Fights Anderson a Fugitive Slave 
Cambridge Recollections The G.E.R. Protectionist Meeting 
Walking Tour in Devon The Scilly Islands . . .pp. 61-86 





I relinquish the Bar and take a Farm Agricultural Methods Hay- 
making Welsh Sheep Farming near London . . . pp. 87-93 

Royal Agricultural Society of England Move to Wilburton from 
Pinner Enclosures Open Fields Quails Wild-fowl Gunners 
Snipe The Fen Drainage Antiquities and Flora of Fens Labourer's 
Fare 'Ria and John The Foreman The Village The Tithe Barn 
The Manor Court Church Restoration Old Customs Rural 
Exodus pp. 94-124 



The Rural Exodus Old-fashioned Church Music Constable's 
Rate Mole-catchers Hunting Men Lucas of Lutterworth Plough- 
ing with Oxen Roads Badgers Otters Marriage The New Agri- 
culture Rural Child Labour Agricultural Labourers Irish Labourers 
Irish Famine The Chartists pp. 125-147 



The Chartist Riots The Preparations of the Duke Church Revival 
St. George-in-the-East St. Peter's, London Docks A St. George's 
Missionary Begging Impostors Flying Squirrels Dog-stealers The 
Adventures of Dicky pp. 148-161 



Hazelbeech Farming in the Midlands Sanitary Arrangements 
Liebig Church Restoration Village Orchestra Progress of Agri- 


culture An Agricultural Impostor Sir John Bennet Lawes 
Rothamsted pp. 162-176 



Holiday Tours Barnstaple Fair Scots Drovers The Russian 
War Deer -stalking dough's Bothie Peers as After-dinner Speakers 
Abraham Lincoln Provident Society The Prince of Wales' 
Marriage The English Lakes pp. 177-197 



The Rinderpest Letter to Times Deputation to Government I 
address Lord Russell My Views Adopted Candidate for Parliament 
Canvassing Irish Church A Rowdy Meeting Elected M.P. 
The Bishop of Peterborough Opening of Parliament Mr. Glad- 
stone Sir Wm. Harcourt A Birds Preservation Act Prosy 
Speakers pp. 198-219 



Distress in East End An Emigration Fund Samuel Morley 
Visit to Ireland Irish Farming An Irish Outrage The Irish Land 
Bill Parliamentary Friends Disraeli George Moore Poor Law 
Administration The Brixworth Board of Guardians institute an 
Inquiry Almshouses and Pauper Tenants Mr. Gladstone Lord 
Randolph Churchill pp. 220-251 



The Drought of 1870 Events in Parliament" Nostrums " 
Gilpin Bernal Osborne Ayrton Dean Vaughan Illness of Prince 
of Wales Relief of Local Taxation A Navvies' Village Mr. George 
Moore A " Call " East End Clergy Sir Massey Lopes Jews 
A Cactus Farm pp. 252-272 




A Provident Society Mrs. Arnold Sir R. Wallace's Pictures 
Poachers An Old Library Tenant Right Moody and Sankey 
Mr. Plimsoll Poor Law Conferences Sir W. Gull Shoeblacks 
Brixworth Miss O. Hill Sciatica Buxton Mr. Mechi Fancy 
Farming Visit to America General Sherman Illness and Return 
Home General Election Magee Rivers Flood Bill Phoenix Park 
Murders Fainting Fit Free Trade Conclusion . pp. 273-322 






ALBERT PELL (Photogravure) ..... Frontitpuce 



ALBERT PELL AS A BOY . . . . . 44 




THE memoirs which are here given to the public were 
written by Mr. Pell during the last years of his life. He 
has set at the head of them some words from a letter 
of Horace Walpole's a strange source of inspiration 
for the bluff Anglo-Saxon strength of Mr. Pell's nature 
but characteristic of the catholicity of his taste 
and reading. The quotation accurately describes the 
attitude of his old age towards the past. Those who 
had the privilege of enjoying Mr. Pell's friendship know 
what good company he was, and how original and racy 
his view of life. It is impossible, however, for the 
printed page to reproduce the inimitable manner of 
the man. Underneath a rugged exterior which some- 
times would take the form of almost truculent ferocity 
towards a " nostrum " that he did not like (see p. 253) 
there was a vein of sentimental tenderness which would 
sometimes surprise even those who knew him best. 
The excuse for this preface must be that these aspects 
of his character and incidents in his life are not repre- 
sented or told in his own memoir, and that some attempt 
to supplement the picture must be made, if the book is 
to be what it is intended a memorial of a very original 
and interesting character. 

Like those of many other good talkers, Mr. Pell's 
stories were not always told in the same way. The 


main incidents never varied, but at each recital his 
memory seemed to bring up new and fresh details. The 
story, for instance (see p. 53), of that Bohemian night 
spent in the Green Park was a favourite which his friends 
liked to draw from the old man. The narration often 
made them wish that he had attempted the writing 
of fiction. His way of telling the story will compare 
not unfavourably with Borrow at his best. If the 
highest flight of imagination is not reached, it is because 
he felt himself confined by the uneventful nature of the 
episodes which he described, but there is in the narrative 
an abundance of humour and an entire absence of the 
vanity and egotism which detract somewhat from the 
pure enjoyment of the admirers of Lavengro. The sug- 
gestion in the text (see p. 54) that the drink might 
have been turpentine is new ; more usually it was the 
rotundity of the lady's person or the grease spots on her 
dress about which he would enlarge, as if he still saw 
them down all the long vista of years. These imagina- 
tive resources prevented Mr. Pell's stories from becoming 
" chestnuts." He had also a solemn way of repeating 
the sentence which contained the point of the story that 
was inimitable. After describing the horrors of his 
thirst, the person of the cup-bearer, and the appetising 
clearness of the fluid, he would add with a solemn shake 
of his head " It was gin ! It was gin ! " The story 
seemed never to pall, and if one of his hearers declared 
himself defrauded of an account of the aggravated 
horrors of a schoolboy's thirst that had been quenched 
with gin, these would be added with spirit and with the 
liveliest dramatic touches. It was indeed not so much 
the story as the way of telling it that amused. Lord 
Randolph Churchill's baiting of Mr. Gladstone has often 


been described. Who but Mr. Pell however, from his 
coign of vantage on a back bench below the gangway, has 
ever thought of comparing the agitated muscles in the 
neck of the leader of the Fourth Party, when engaged in 
this historic pastime, to the quiverings in the neck of a 
fox terrier scratching a rabbit out of its hole ! The simile, 
however, brings the picture before us in a way that could 
not be attained by a more ambitious narrative. 

Mr. Pell's connection with East London was a topic 
on which he often enlarged. There was an ancestral, 
and to some of us rather mythical, Pell whom he was 
fond of describing as standing in the mud at Wapping 
caulking a boat. " I can see him now," he would say 
we believe the gentleman died many years before Mr. 
Pell was born ; but when his imagination was once 
fired, Mr. Pell was no chronologer " he was dressed 
in white corduroy breeches which he hitched with his 
tarry thumbs but it was good tar that he used, and it 
was a seaworthy boat " (bis). This story was usually 
told to explain his very genuine love of the East End, 
and as a prelude to accounts of strange visits to Jamrach's 
and Chinese opium dens. 

Mr. Albert Julian Pell, his nephew, tells me that an 
ancestral Pell was a boat-builder on the Thames, who 
possessed, it is piously believed, all the virtues attributed 
to him by his descendant. He claimed also as his ancestor 
a Kentish Pell, whose near approach to the gallows for 
his concern in Jack Cade's rebellion was a bit of family 
history in which his descendant took a humorous pride. 
Mr. Pell's grandfather lived on terms of friendship with a 
German immigrant whose Christian name was Albert, a 
name unusual in England before the days of our own 


Prince Consort. This name was borne both by Mr. Pell 
and his father, and the circumstance was often mentioned 
by Mr. Pell as the reason of his regard for the alien settlers 
in the East End. The Jew-baiting of these later days 
aroused his anger and contempt. He spoke of gratitude, 
but of the precise nature of the obligation of the family to 
this German friend I am not aware. Apart from this, Mr. 
Pell liked his Jewish tenants and neighbours. " The 
best tenant," he would say, " is a warehouse, or if you 
can't get that, a cart, but if it is to be human kind, a Jew 
is the best. They are industrious, law-abiding people, and 
they don't drink." The little black-eyed Jew children 
dancing to the strains of an organ in Pell Street filled him 
with delight, and he would describe, with a minuteness 
worthy of a dancing-master, the intricacies of their steps. 

Mr. Pell's father, as he narrates, received the first 
rudiments of his education in Raine's School in St. 
George-in-the-East, an old foundation which is other- 
wise remarkable for a fund to provide dowries for a 
certain number of young women who have been educated 
in the school. The selection of brides takes place at 
intervals of a few years. The result is not very satis- 
factory, and in practice, so, at least, it is locally reported, 
has led to a sordid species of fortune-hunting and to a 
number of unhappy marriages. 

Mr. Albert Pell senior, according to his son, had a 
hard struggle owing to narrow means. He was called 
to the Bar and went the Western Circuit. It was not 
etiquette for a barrister in those days to travel in a 
public conveyance. He might meet a solicitor ! Mr. 
Pell could not, on his first circuit, afford to ride or to 
post, so he walked, and walked through the night, from 


one assize town to another. He seems rapidly to have 
acquired a practice, largely, according to his son, owing 
to the prevalence of litigation about water-rights. Mr. 
Albert Pell senior in course of time became a Serjeant- 
at-law, and later a Judge in Bankruptcy, when he was 
also made a knight. He married comparatively late 
in life Margaret Letitia Matilda, daughter and co-heiress 
of Lord St. John of Bletsoe. The marriage trustees of 
this lady purchased and so brought into the family as 
part of her dower the manor of Wilburton, which Mr. 
Pell describes in more than one passage of these memoirs. 
At his mother's death Mr. Pell was already settled at 
Hazelbeech,* Northamptonshire, a house which he rented 
from his relative Sir Charles Isham, and which remained 
his home till his death ; and he never lived permanently 
at Wilburton, which now descended to him in joint 
ownership with his two younger brothers. 

The manor of Wilburton is still occupied by tenants 
holding and cultivating according to the custom and 
rules of the manor. The manor rolls have been pre- 
served from the fourteenth century, all written on vellum, 
except for one short period when they are on paper, a 
parsimony which, together with its authors, Mr. Pell 
would at times vehemently anathematise. Mr. Pell was 
not a voluminous author, but he was fond of writing and 
could write graphically. His pamphlet on the Making 
of the Land in England (reprinted as an appendix to 
this volume) is an admirable exposition of a subject 
which he understood thoroughly. Much of the in- 
terest of this tract is given to it from his knowledge of 
the history of the Fen Drainage and the archaic forms 
of tenure which still survive there. The manorial books 

* Hazelbeech is variously written Hazelbeach and as above. 



of Wilburton have been a mine of information for historical 
and legal students; and they have been frequently 
quoted by the late Professor Maitland and other authorities 
on the subject. 

In his memoir Mr. Pell records at some length what 
was probably the most important achievement of his 
political life, namely the successful agitation which, with 
others, he carried on till the Government was induced to 
take drastic measures with regard to the Cattle Plague 
1866-8. This agitation carried him into Parliament, 
where he was always listened to as one who spoke with 
authority on questions of agriculture and local govern- 
ment. His great ally in the representation of the 
agricultural interest was Mr. Clare Sewell Read, member 
for Norfolk, and at one time Under-Secretary to the Local 
Government Board, between whom and Mr. Pell, not- 
withstanding many differences of opinion, there subsisted 
till Mr. Read's death the warmest feelings of friendship. 

Mr. Pell has been heard to describe to the daughter 
of his old friend some of the incidents that befell them 
during a journey to the United States. There ran 
through it a refrain : " Oh ! your father was good to 
me ! He never was out of temper and I was a terrible 
fellow in those days I was not energetic, I was brutal, 
and having a steam engine somewhere about my person, 
I drove straight ahead, sparing neither age nor sex. I 

remember well " and then came the detail which 

in Mr. Pell's conversation was always so delightful 
" how ill I was with a touch of rheumatic fever on the 
way home. One morning your father came into my 
cabin with a very long face. I knew it was not the 
Psalms, we had read them together already but oh, 
how good he was to me ! ' Look here, Pell,' he said, 


4 of course you are ill, I know that ; but you have no 
business to be in such an infernal temper that even the 
able-bodied sailors are afraid to come within hail of 
you.' I am very thankful to think " (bis, and very 
impressively) "that I had the grace to say I was sorry; 
and then, when he had reduced me to a proper state of 
contrition, your father went on ' Now you know, Pell, 
I hope you won't mind my speaking plainly, now I have 
caught you here in a repentant frame of mind. You are 
now suffering pain and are not quite well ' (here I 
groaned dismally) ' but what I would have you re- 
member is that you are now in the condition in which 
many of us have to go through life, and it ought, my 
dear Pell, when you get well again, to make you more 
considerate of your weaker brethren.' Oh ! such a good 
lesson such a good lesson ; but I am afraid, my dear, 
I never followed it very far." 

Mr. Pell certainly was a redoubtable controversialist. 
He had argument, humour, pertinacity and great insight ; 
but he scorned tactics, and to attend a public meeting 
as advocate of an unpopular cause with Mr. Pell was a 
pastime which ensured some lively quarters of an hour. 
His courage and his loyalty never faltered, and though 
all his friends recognised in him a man with whom they 
would be ready to go tiger-hunting, he could not resist 
occasionally firing a charge of small-shot at the tail of a 
retreating tiger, in a way that gave rise to exciting but 
perhaps unnecessary scenes. 

A sincere conviction led Mr. Pell to advocate a strict 
and careful administration of the Poor Law. It was 
a subject which lay nearer his heart than perhaps any 
other, and he has solemnly chronicled the intensity 
of his unchanged opinion in the epitaph which he wrote 


for his own tombstone. Many of the stories which have 
come to my knowledge are connected with his work as 
a Poor Law reformer. This is not the place to go into the 
merits of the case,* and here the subject is introduced 
only for the purpose of illustrating Mr. Pell's character. 
Like many other old-fashioned people, he held strongly 
that children had a duty to their aged parents. The 
influence of the Poor Law admittedly has been to en- 
courage children to neglect their natural duty in this 
respect. Legislation having led to this unnatural habit, 
it became necessary to attempt to check and control it, and 
laws have been passed to oblige children to perform duties 
toward their parents, a breach of which duties, except for 
the encouragement given by the law, they would never 
have thought of justifying. There are, however, people 
who defend this dereliction of duty, and who agitate 
for a repeal of the law which seeks to enforce it, and 
on one occasion Mr. Pell, who was known to take an 
interest in such subjects, was asked on the hustings 
by a heckler whether he was the man who in his place 
in Parliament had made the law obliging poor men to 
maintain their parents. 

" No ! " rapped out Mr. Pell in reply " that is an 
older law. It was written by God Almighty on two tables 
of stone and brought down by Moses from Mount Sinai ; 
and as far as I can make out, Thomas, it's the stone and 
not the law that has got into your heart." The abashed 
heckler got his answer, and for many a long day was 
known as " stony-hearted Thomas." 

Mr. Pell was not one of those who suffered fools gladly, 
and the more outwardly decorous and respectable was the 
person in whom he detected symptoms of obnoxious folly, 

* See, however, a letter printed in appendix. 


the more indignant he grew and the more likely he was to 
descend like the proverbial hundred of bricks. 

One class of philanthropists was particularly distasteful 
to him namely those who exaggerate the squalor and 
poverty of the region in which they labour. Exaggerated 
statement on such subjects in most companies is allowed 
to pass without challenge, but Mr. Pell could rarely 
restrain himself. He was a member of the Royal Com- 
mission (Lord Aberdare's) on the Aged Poor. Before this 
body an amiable but foolish parson appeared, and asserted 
that people had been " done to death " in his parish by 
the neglect of the Guardians . The wearied commissioners, 
who had heard much similar language, and knew how 
much importance was to be attached to it, were probably 
only too anxious to send the reverend gentleman back to 
his flock. Not so Mr. Pell. " This is a very serious allega- 
tion," he said ; "it must be examined." The witness, 
who probably had been in the habit of making such state- 
ments in magazine articles and charitable appeals, was 
challenged to give instances, and of course found it difficult 
to do so ; but he mentioned one or two cases which he 
thought hard. Mr. Pell insisted on having the committee 
room cleared, the witness was told to go home and come 
again with his proofs, and the explanation of the Guardians 
was invited. On his second appearance the witness had to 
admit that no one had died, and that the only case for 
which a satisfactory explanation was not forthcoming 
happened ten years before, and there was no record of 
the circumstances. There are not many men who 
would have taken the trouble to hunt down the reck- 
lessness of this sort of evidence. If the example could 
have been set on a hill-top as a warning it might have 
been worth doing, but when all is to be buried in the 


secret obscurity of a ponderous blue-book, a less strenuous 
character might have thought it waste of time and labour. 

Sometimes, it is to be feared, Mr. Pell's impatience of 
what he considered foolish sentimentality got the better 
of strict propriety. A much-esteemed friend, than whom 
the most active imagination could never conjure up a 
figure more respectable, was urging in the witnesses' 
chair a policy of which Mr. Pell disapproved. The witness 
was asked how he could reconcile such a proposition with 
any reasonable view of laws human or divine. At last, 
thoroughly badgered, he rather weakly took refuge in 
the remark, "Well, it is what the Philanthropic Public 
wants." " Philanthropic public ! " exclaimed his re- 
lentless cross-examiner, " who are the philanthropic 
public ? " " Well, I mean," the answer came, " the 
people who go about doing good, you know." " What," 
said Mr. Pell, with more than bucolic bluntness, " you 
mean like a cow goes about doing good in a field." Sol' 
vuntur risu tabulae. The witness then withdrew. 

With regard to the Poor Law, there was in Mr. Pell's 
mind a certain sceva indignatio, warranted by his very 
clear vision of the suffering caused to the poor by weak- 
kneed sentimentalists, and accentuated by the con- 
sciousness that popular ignorance and popular prejudice 
made it very difficult to repair the mischief done by the 
Elizabethan enactment and all that has followed from 
it. This was, I think, the most engrossing idea in his 
mind. " Sound," in his vocabulary and he would con- 
stantly ask about a stranger, "Is he sound ? " meant 
sound upon the Poor Law. He was not, except in this 
respect, a strong party man ; his character was too in- 
dependent. The best Poor Law administrators at the 
Central Office in his time, he used to say, were Liberals 


notably Lord Goschen and Mr. Stansfeld ; the worst, 
he would generally add, members of his own party. 
The political portion of his reminiscences is rather 
meagre ; only a few passages have been retained as 
specimens, and they hardly do justice to the author's 
power of description. He would, however, frequently 
talk about his political life. His views were very tolerant 
and catholic. He was a " pretty " fighter, but more for 
the love of the thing than from any conviction of the 
principles that are supposed to divide Conservatism and 

In later life he grew a beard, which gave him a vener- 
able appearance which his sentiments, freely expressed in 
downright Anglo-Saxon, sometimes belied ; but in earlier 
life he used to say he was a rather truculent-looking 
fellow. This hardly did justice to the twinkle which 
was rarely absent from his eye but undoubtedly at times 
he had a determined air. On one occasion, when facing 
a hostile meeting, he was rewarded by overhearing a 
remark which pleased him greatly. A man in what he 
always called " the trough " i.e. the place below the plat- 
form, generally reserved for reporters, remarked to his 
neighbour, " Look at his mouth, he'd bite a tenpenny 
nail in 'arf ! " A tribute which he greatly appreciated. 

The things that remained in his memory were the 
humours of the game. The nearest approach to male- 
volence that I can call to mind, was his evident satis- 
faction in having dubbed a political opponent whose 
features and character (so Mr. Pell thought) gave point 
to the nick-name ' ' Tricky Noses . ' ' Trichinosis , it should 
be explained, was a mischievous disease among swine, 
then causing much anxiety to the legislative wisdom, and 
to Mr. Pell's agricultural allies in particular. For the 


rest, Mr. Pell thoroughly enjoyed himself, and made 
friends with all sorts and conditions of men. 

In his old age he became slightly deaf, and could not 
follow a public meeting, He declined, on one occasion, 
to speak for a local candidate, but he said, " I have got a 
fine churchyard cough, and if you like I will go and at- 
tend your opponent's meetings." The real truth is that 
he could get no political party to take any interest in his 
favourite subject of Poor Law reform, and the cheap 
electioneering which many persons in both parties carried 
on by way of lavish promises of pensions and backsheesh 
filled him with disgust. He was a strong Free Trader, 
and thought Mr. Chamberlain would ruin his party and his 
country, and Mr. Balfour's tactics were beyond him. 
Though all his life a Tory, his opinions were really rather 
those of an old-fashioned Liberal than of any modern 
species of politician. He disliked the great Whig family 
tradition, and this feeling, more than anything, kept 
him from straying far from the Tory fold. Unlike most 
men, as he grew older he grew more liberal, using the 
term in its literal sense ; with that illogical hybrid the 
Socialist-Liberal he had no sympathy. 

Of the great political leaders he was no blind wor- 
shipper, and his heroes were, I think, President Lincoln, 
Sir John Bennet Lawes, and one or two friends, men 
in an entirely private station in life, in whom affec- 
tionate partiality led him to recognise the elements of 

Mr. Gladstone, oddly enough, seems to have been 
chiefly a source of amusement to him. His sturdy inde- 
pendence led him at times to be something of a thorn 
in the side of his own party, and it may be that 
Mr. Gladstone looked on him as a possible recruit. He 


was fond of telling how on one occasion possibly to be 
identified with one described in the text (p. 247) Mr. 
Gladstone seated himself on a low chair at his feet and 
entered into conversation on a variety of subjects. " It 
was for all the world," he would say, " like the Garden of 
Eden over again. There was I like Eve seated in her 
bower, with the Serpent at my feet." The temptation, 
however, seems hi this instance to have come from Eve, 
who unlike her prototype was quite equal to the occasion, 
for she managed somehow to deliver her soliloquy on the 
Poor Law, and to watch for an opportunity of recom- 
mending for preferment a " sound " clergyman, an 
opportunity which the wily one silently evaded. 

For his own political chief he had a strong liking, 
though to the end Lord Beaconsfield was ever to him the 
amazing Premier. He admired especially Mr. Disraeli's 
management of the party in the House of Commons, 
and he was fond of telling against himself two stories of 
how Disraeli good-humouredly could repress an over- 
officious private in the ranks of the party. On one 
occasion Mr. Pell voted against his party, and imme- 
diately after met his chief in the lobby and began to 
apologise for his breach of discipline, referring to his 
conscience, his principles, and his pledges to his con- 
stituents. Disraeli took him genially by the arm and 
said, " My dear Pell, it really isn't of any consequence. 
Please do not worry yourself. I can assure you it doesn't 
matter in the very slightest degree." " Oh, such a lesson 
for a bumptious young politician ! " the victim always 
remarked when he told of his discomfiture. 

On another occasion, when on the subject of local taxa- 
tion a motion by Mr. Pell had put the Liberal Ministry 
of the day in a difficulty, he was naturally in a state of 


much elation, and wished his chief to follow up the ad- 
vantage by some further action. He committed his point 
to writing and approached his leader, who sat with 
folded arms and head sunk on his chest, on the front 
Opposition bench. He raised his eyes, but Mr. Pell could 
see that he was not listening to his eager counsels, so he 
produced his paper, remarking, " I see, Sir, that your 
thoughts are occupied ; but please put this in your pocket 
and look at it at your leisure." " My dear Pell," said 
the great man, " I never put anything in my pocket but 
look here, you give it to Monty Corry ; I believe he puts 
things in his pocket." 

Mr. Pell could well afford to tell such stories against 
himself. His position in the party was so well assured 
that these witty pleasantries of his chief could pass with- 
out offence, and indeed no one appreciated them more 
than himself. Mr. Pell's reminiscences relating to this 
date are obviously compiled from old diaries, and though 
they record many interviews with Ministers and im- 
portant persons, memory does not seem to have called 
up much beyond the mere fact. His bare chronicles 
have been, for this reason, excluded from the narrative 
here published, but his notes are sufficient to show that 
to Mr. Pell were conceded, as of right, a considerable 
place and influence in the councils of his party. 

A distinguished public servant, Sir Robert Giffen, has 
remarked to me that Mr. Pell was a person with whom 
it was possible and a pleasure to do business. He 
writes : "I had a general idea that Mr. Pell was con- 
sidered a character, but he never showed that side to me, 
and I had an intense respect for him as one of the most 
sensible public men I had come across. The special 
business which brought Mr. Pell to my office at the 


Board of Trade was the corn average prices, . . . about 
which the farmers were very sore and there was much 
agitation. Mr. Pell was one of the few who understood 
our official point of view, and assisted materially in 
getting a new Bill quietly through Parliament which 
improved the machinery for taking the prices without 
altering their basis, which would have been rather a 
calamity statistically." 

Although essentially an outdoor man, he was all his 
life a great reader. He records in his memoirs his first 
introduction to Pickwick, and he has told me that he 
made a point of reading Pickwick through once every 
year. He read it aloud with an enjoyment that was 
irresistibly infectious. The story of the bagman's uncle 
in Pickwick and the spitting of the Marquis of Filletoville 
like a cockchafer on the wall was an episode which 
afforded him immense delight. 

The characters of Dickens seem to come from the world 
which he himself inhabited, for he had a marvellous 
capacity for picking up strange acquaintances. He also 
read many out-of-the-way books. Arthur Young and 
Cobbett were of course favourites, and he was always 
imploring his friends to read Olmsted, an American 
writer who was unknown to most of us.* 

To those who did not know him Mr. Pell showed few 
signs of a sentimentalist, but on a closer acquaintance it 
would appear that there were causes and things which 
moved him deeply. The warmth with which he always 

* A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States, with Remarks on their 
Economy, by Frederick Law Olmsted, author of Walks and Talks of 
an American Farmer in England, New York, 1856, a well-written and 
moderately expressed condemnation of slavery, dwelling mainly on 
the uneconomical results of slave labour and the exhaustion of the 
soil in the Southern States. 


spoke of slavery in the Southern States surprised his 
younger friends, to whom the subject had become remote, 
and they felt inclined to ask, as did Hamlet of the player, 
" What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba ? " He had 
also a love of abstract truth for its own sake which 
found vent in emotion not often evoked by episodes of 
ancient history. I remember his taking down from his 
bookshelf a volume of Draper's Intellectual Development 
of Europe not, one would say, a tear-provoking volume 
and reading to me in a voice trembling with emotion a 
passage describing the fortitude of Galileo and his suffer- 
ings for the truth. Mr. Pell was, as all the world could 
see, a witty and entertaining companion, but there was 
in him also a great and tender humanity, and, what is 
perhaps rarer, a jealous love of justice and truth. This 
fact is a key to his character and to his humour, and ex- 
plained his sometimes violent outbursts against what he 
conceived to be a false and shoddy type of philanthropy. 
A characteristic instance of these two sides to his character 
is perhaps worth recording. St. George-in-the-East 
Workhouse Infirmary is in the neighbourhood of the docks, 
and thither, in their sickness and misery, came the unfor- 
tunate women who frequented the low sailors' taverns and 
dancing-rooms. Mr. Pell was talking of this class one 
day, in the plain language which he always used. He 
spoke, however, in tones of tenderest compassion, and 
dwelt on their sufferings, their unknown temptations, 
their frequent kindness to one another, the unlimited 
mercy of God ; and he described how in his visits to the 
infirmary he had seen these women on their deathbeds 
how in death the riot and debauchery had vanished from 
their faces, and revealed again traces of their original 
beauty and innocence, as they rested in the peace of death. 


Then by some rapid transition his mind was diverted to 
thoughts of the uphill struggle he was carrying on against 
the mischievous laxity of Poor Law administration, and 
he broke out, " Ah ! I do pity indeed those poor 
creatures but as for those wretched humbugs who 
wish to relieve then 1 feelings at the expense of the 
independence of the poor, and who chatter about 
' deserving widows,' * I have no patience with them ; 
besides, they are not deserving, they only have an un- 
satisfied craving for gin in their bellies." The argument, 
of course, takes nothing from the alleged appetite for 
gin characteristic of widows, but it is typical of the 
" bludgeonly " way he laid about him when his feelings 
were roused. 

Notwithstanding his delicacy as a child, Mr. Pell en- 
joyed on the whole robust health. " Ah," he would say, 
" I have much to be thankful for. Once, about forty 
years ago, I had a headache, but otherwise I have had 
good health." His attitude towards doctors and nurses 
was subject of much amusement to them and to his 
friends. To one doctor who asked to have a second 
opinion, he firmly replied, " No ; if you are going to kill 
me, you must do it on your own responsibility." To 
another who was presented in his private, not his pro- 
fessional capacity, he remarked, " I do not hold much 
by your profession ; when I am ill I send for a lobster." 
He had some strange faith in the healing properties of a 
lobster which I confess I cannot explain (see also p. 315). 
When at the age of eighty-two, he underwent vacciriation, 

* This phrase, it should be explained, is a cant term in Poor Law 
controversy. A. and B. are alleged to have desert, and it is argued 
from this that it is necessary to set up a machinery for their relief 
which experience, in Mr. Pell's opinion, had proved to be most 
dangerous to the best interests of the poor as a class. 


the officiating doctor had the temerity to ask after his 
general health. Mr. Pell glared at him. " General 
health ? " he said, " I don't keep any general health ! " 
On another occasion he was taken very ill in the Fens, 
and the local doctor was alarmed. " I made up my mind 
however, that I would not die just then, so they got a 
second doctor from Cambridge, and he backed me up. 
* You people here,' the specialist said, ' are accustomed 
to parsons and labourers in the Fens, who when they have 
a pain curl up and die but here's an English gentleman 
who has made up his mind that he is not going to die, 
and you will see he will get all right.' ' 

Much friendly chaff used to pass between him and some 
young ladies, his relations, who had taken up the pro- 
fession of nursing. The scoldings that passed between 
them are best described by the old Scotch word " flyting " 
the flyting of Dunbar and Kennedy, that famous bandy- 
ing to and fro of ribald abuse between two of Scotland's 
greatest poets all in the fine old English spirit of the 
prize ring, " before corruption crept in." The young 
ladies had been mercilessly teased, and when they issued 
their business card as certificated nurses, a copy was 
sent to Mr. Pell with a neat P.T.O. in the corner, and 
on the other side was the exhilarating legend, " Laying 
out a speciality." Mr. Pell was delighted with this 
fair knock-down blow, as the authors of what to the 
fastidious might seem a rather grisly joke well knew he 
would be. His love of fun and a pretty wit remained 
with him, to lighten the burden of sickness and old age, 
to the end. One of these ladies, between whom and 
himself relations were really most affectionate, came to 
see him when he was on his deathbed. " What," he said, 
" you here ! Then I know my last hour's come ! " 


There is a fortitude which endures in grim silence, but 
of all God's gifts a sense of humour is surely one of the 
most gracious. 

He had a very happy knack of inventing phrases, often 
in connection with animals and flowers. Thus of the 
bullfinch he always declared that its eye was rounder 
than a circle. A favourite pug's tail was so tightly 
curled that he could not keep his hind legs on the ground. 
How delightful also (see p. 13) is the zest with which 
he speaks of the scent of the chaffinch's nest as a joy 
which had haunted him from childhood to old age. 
Most enthusiastically, too, would he applaud the poet's 
success in choosing the right epithet for some familiar 
incident in the life of the fields. I remember, particularly, 
his delight over the " foraging " of the cawing rooks 
and the "peeping" of the field-mouse, and the "rustle 
of the reaped corn" in Keats's Ode to Fancy. In this 
connection I venture to ask the reader to turn to the 
passage on p. 89, which describes the old-fashioned 
English hay-making, in a way that shows that, though 
Mr. Pell made no pretence of authorship, when the 
subject came near his heart, he could write the English 
language with singular charm. For his own immediate 
circle also, for his friends and his servants, he had 
epithets which seemed as inevitably appropriate as 
the epithets of Homer. A servant who discovered 
Hazelbeech on a dark night was known as Columbus; 
another, whose temper and appearance were fiery, was 
always spoken of as the Hyrcanian tiger; a dignified 
old farm labourer, much in favour with Mr. Pell, 
was the Roman Emperor; and a small child with 
keen brown eyes and a sharp nose was always known 
as the mouse. In questions of literature, as well as on 


those of social and political interest, Mr. Pell's opinions 
were always independent, and his literary judgment was, 
as a rule, in conformity with that of the best masters of 
criticism ; but here, as elsewhere, it was always a voice 
and not an echo that proceeded from Mr. Pell. 

On his prowess as a churchwarden Mr. Pell valued him- 
self very much. If the parson was " sound " all went well, 
but if there was any doubt about the " soundness " of his 
opinions, he must often have prayed for a more con- 
ventional ally. About forms and ceremonies he was 
not exacting, though, on the whole, he was opposed, but 
by no means bitterly, to what he called Eastward Ho ! 
practices. On occasions when he had felt called on to 
make some tolerably pungent remarks on what he re- 
garded as clerical backsliding in the matter of " sound- 
ness," he would add, " But mind you, I am not an irre- 
ligious man I am a pupil of Dr. Arnold's, and if you 
want a churchwarden who knows his business, Albert 
Pell is your man." 

Mr. Pell was a wise man and a philosopher, and did 
not talk much about his religious opinions. I heard him 
once startle a mild young curate by asking, " Do you 
think, sir, that, if the belief in hell-fire was abolished, 
we should have to increase the number of the police ? " 
What answer Mr. Pell would have given to the question 
I do not know. Some " wag " who was present sug- 
gested to him that the conduct of a certain President 
of the Local Government Board who was suspected of 
electioneering at the expense of the Poor Law should 
reconcile him to the sternest interpretations of Calvin 
on the subject ; but he would not be drawn. He had 
indeed no taste for theological controversy, and remained 
very close to the faith taught him in his childhood. 


In later life, when he felt no longer able to undergo the 
labour of finding out for himself, he was pathetically 
deferential to the opinion of younger men, especially if, 
like Mr. Crowder and Mr. Bury, they had secured his 
confidence. He seemed to recognise also that modern 
methods of controversy had become milder than those 
affected by the school in which he had grown up, and I 
have heard him ejaculate an intention to pray to be 
saved from the sin of a too censorious mind. The re- 
ligious aspect of his character that struck his friends most 
vividly was his humble attitude of thankfulness for the 
happiness which lay, as he seemed to think, within the 
reach of a cheerful and well-disciplined mind. 

Mr. Pell was never a rich man, and had indeed legiti- 
mate reasons for practising economy. His friend Mr. 
Bryce used to say of him that he was the best prac- 
tical economist he had ever met. Though he appreciated 
the aid given by science to farming, he was never a 
fancy farmer ; his friends used laughingly to assert that 
his farming profits arose largely out of his sparing use of 
washing and paint on his carts. His favourite convey- 
ance was a funny old two-wheeled Yarmouth herring- 
cart, in which he always drove, not along the road, but 
across the fields. It was on this humble and familiar 
bier that his body was carried to its last resting-place in 
Hazelbeech churchyard. 

He had strong views as to the duties of landlords. 
Land-owning was a business and ought to be scientifically 
studied, and he was brutally unsympathetic when in- 
vited to pity the sufferings of the poor landlord. 

He was not one of those who went whining for protection 
on behalf of the industry in which he was engaged. On 
one occasion in the House of Commons, in reply to a de- 



mand for Protection on the ground that the farmers were 
not making money, he remarked, ' Yes, the farmers are 
making a great deal of money ; but it is taken from them 
by various people by the bankers who finance them " 
(with a nod of his head towards a colleague who was 
head partner in a large country bank), " by the implement 
makers " (and here he glanced at Mr. Howard, partner in 
the great agricultural machinery firm), " and " (looking 
round the house as if he was searching for some one), 
" by the manure merchants. And so," he continued, 
" there is very little left for the farmer, and that little 
is further depleted by an impolitic system of local taxa- 
tion which throws more than a fair share of burden on 
this important and struggling industry." An excellent 
argument which was none the less forcible because so 
humorously introduced. 

His way of life was plain and homely, but, like the tar 
of the ancestral boat-builder, everything about him was 
good of its kind. He was very fond of animals, and 
generally had in the house or in the stable-yard a family 
of Persian cats and a number of pugs, of whom the 
most famous was Mr. Tubs, an intelligent and hand- 
some pug who pathetically died on the day before his 
master. With another, Mr. Punch, he used to carry on 
conversations of a most amusing character, expressing 
through Mr. Punch's mouth the views of a pug-philosopher 
on many topics. 

In early life, as he has narrated, Mr. Pell rarely travelled 
in cabs, but latterly at Torquay he found the hills too 
steep, and used to drive from the sea-level up to his house 
for which journey he knew the right fare. Occasionally 
cabby, as is his way, grumbled. One bolder than the 
rest declared roundly that he'd be blowed if ever he drove 


such a stingy old fossil again. " Oh yes, you will," 
said Mr. Pell with imperturbable good-humour. " I 
know your face well, and I shall always look out for 
you on the rank." 

A few detached " Pelliana " are still to be recorded. 
Somehow Mr. Pell could say things which in any one else's 
mouth would have been resented as liberties. He had 
a genial way about him that deprived his hard sayings 
of any sting. A young man, a nephew of an old friend, 
was introduced to him one day. " I am glad to make 
your acquaintance," he said; " I knew your uncle well 
he was a coarse fellow ; not to put too fine a point upon 
it, he was afoul-mouthed fellow." Their host was some- 
what alarmed as to how this unnecessarily plain speaking 
would be received. Happily the situation was one in 
which the most dutiful of nephews could not restrain his 
laughter. " I never knew my uncle," he said, " but I am 
afraid what you say is true, as every one tells me the 
same." The uncle indeed was an admirable and useful 
member of society, but he had in his younger days 
achieved, and no doubt merited, an outstanding repu- 
tation on a famous circuit which prided itself on the 
violence and range of its fancy swearing. 

His unconventional frankness was not always so well 
received. Torquay is famous for its luncheon-parties, 
frequented by valetudinarians of both sexes. At one of 
these rather prim festivities Mr. Pell was asked by a 
blameless spinster lady of middle age, anxious to make 
conversation, what he thought of Mr. Chamberlain and 
Tariff Reform. The mantle of Dr. Johnson seems to 
have fallen on him, and he replied, I fear somewhat 
rudely, " Madam, what are you talking about ? I am 


an educated man, and I read ! " and he calmly went on 
with his lunch, unconscious of the horrid bomb that he 
had exploded, for the genteel luncheon-parties of Torquay 
are, for the most part, favourable to Mr. Chamberlain. 

Here perhaps should be inserted one of his last con- 
tributions to public controversy : 

[FROM " THE TIMES," December 30, 1903.] 


To the Editor of "The Times" 

SIR, Though a Unionist Free Trader, I venture to ask to be 
allowed to offer in your columns a few remarks on the present 

Old enough to have taken my lesson, with Bastiat in my hand, 
in the forties, when Disraeli, just returned for Shrewsbury, Peel, 
Cobden, Bright, Lord George Bentinck, and other heroes were 
engaged in the struggle out of which Free Trade emerged to be- 
come, apparently, the permanent policy of Great Britain, it is 
bewildering for me to hear in 1903 a startling command to beat 
a retreat from a bold buccaneer whose daring and intrepidity has 
won the hearts of applauding multitudes. 

While distrusting him, one cannot but admire a genius at 
once so confident and self-reliant. 

The Government, however, has, for our instruction, instituted 
an " Inquiry," and by way of result the Board of Trade has 
supplied us with its invaluable report on British and foreign 
trade and industry and industrial conditions. 

Though not myself engaged in trade or manufactures, its pages 
seem on that head to furnish no reasonable grounds for despond- 
ency; and after having just spent 250 millions in war, some 
depression might surely be expected now and for some years to 

There is a general opinion that our business methods are not 
always up to date, that there is much to learn in important as 


well as in petty details, and that we may win our way better 
by their examination than by crouching behind protective 

But now may I add a word on the rural industries with which 
I have been concerned all my life ? Mr. Chamberlain has not 
yet addressed any large meeting in a purely arable district, but 
his " Plan " includes a small protective duty on foreign wheat 
and meat a homoeopathic tonic to which is added the prospect 
of better times for the agriculturist from the reflected improve- 
ment in other industries ; and then " back to the land " is to 
be the order of the day. We do not yet know what the agri- 
cultural labourer has to say to this. For the present, this year 
at all events, there has been a general sufficiency of farm hands. 
The rural exodus has been from poor homes and low wages to 
the better employment and more exciting life of a town. The 
farmer paid all he could, but grain prices beat him, and after a 
cruel struggle he has had to give in and look for profits away 
from the barn door. Meanwhile the landlord's income in the 
shape of rents has come down at least 35 per cent., and in my 
own case on farm lands 50 per cent. 

We have, however, passed through the valley and shadow 
of death ; but what sort of a resurrection does Mr. Chamberlain 
promise us ? Better not let his glittering picture of this future 
Elysium divert our attention from present business. There are 
reassuring features in the stock-yards and pastures, in dairy and 
poultry produce, in artificial manuring for grass land, in the 
acknowledged superiority of home-fed over foreign meat, in the 
residential value of land in favoured districts, in the rising value 
of rural land following the introduction of any flourishing manu- 
factures with an increased population, and in other potentialities. 
These are not Jack o' Lanterns, they are real and tangible, if not 
very magnificent ; let us make the best of them. Meanwhile, 
at the present juncture it seems, I submit, unwise to shut our 
eyes and open our mouths in the expectancy of the " lead " ; which 
the Government promises to its followers. 

Your obedient servant, 


WONDEELAND, December. 


His hatred of humbug could not always be restrained, 
and a walk with Mr. Pell in a populous neighbourhood 
often involved his companions in some funny altercations. 
A milk-cart in Bournemouth bearing the inscription 
" under medical supervision " was an object which his 
friends had difficulty in getting him to pass without 
shying. At last one day he could bear it no longer, and 
he accosted the boy in charge with an air of great bene- 
volence. " Are you under medical supervision, my 
poor boy ? " " No, sir," answered the boy. " Is the 
pony under medical supervision ? " " No, sir," still 
more cheerfully answered the boy. " Ah ! I see, the 
milk is under medical supervision. Well ! well ! what 
infernal humbug it all is ! " And the mystified little 
street crowd melted away, wondering what the strange 
old gentleman was talking about. 

At a solemn meeting at the Mansion House Mr. Pell 
rose and interrupted a speaker, who hi his opening sen- 
tences showed a disposition to talk nonsense, with an 
appeal to the Lord Mayor to announce the name and 
occupation of the speakers. " Is this gentleman, for 
instance, a guardian or an employer of labour, or is he 
only a Member of Parliament ? " a sally which was 
received with great delight by an audience which re- 
sented being addressed as if they were the groundlings 
in a corrupt constituency. 

His ordinary conversation, too, was full of good things. 
Describing a little party arranged for an American 
friend, whose wit in the Wild West he had vastly enjoyed, 
to which some ladies and the Bishop of Peterborough 
(Magee) had been invited, he explained that his friend had 
not quite played up to his reputation. " You see," he 
said apologetically, " there were ladies present, and he 


could not spit ; and there was the Bishop, and he could 
not swear ; so what was the poor man to do ? " 

But these stories of Mr. Pell, of his wit and his wisdom, 
of his roughness and his tenderness, must be brought to 
a close. To recall them has been to the compiler, and 
he trusts to the friends who have helped him, a labour of 
love. To those who were privileged to enjoy any in- 
timacy with him, Mr. Pell's personality was a constant 
and varied source of refreshment ; and an affectionate 
memory of his brave and humorous spirit is a cherished 
possession with a large circle of friends. 

The last scene of all, his funeral at Hazelbeech, was 
characteristic of the man, and a few lines of description 
will not be out of place. His closing days were in 
keeping with his life. He had indeed warmed his hands 
at the fire of life. He was full of years, and the burden 
of his infirmities was beginning to press heavily on him. 
He recognised without repining that it was time for him 
to go, and those who loved him will not grudge him his 

He died at Longwood, the house on the Vane Hill of 
Torquay, where for some years he had been in the habit 
of spending the winter. His body was carried home to 
Hazelbeech, and laid to rest in the parish churchyard. 
For those who had visited the spot with Mr. Pell the 
place had a strange attraction. It was a favourite walk 
from Hazelbeech, and the interest of the visit was in- 
creased by a sight of the memorial tablet erected by him 
to the memory of his wife. The lower portion of this 
tablet was boarded over, and, as we all knew, underneath 
was the epitaph which he had composed for himself. 
Mr. E. L. Godkin, a distinguished American, and editor 
of the Nation, a leading American journal, had visited 


his friend Mr. Pell at Hazelbeech, and yielding to the 
fascination of this peaceful retreat had left directions that 
his body should here find its last resting-place. He too 
died at Torquay, and was buried in Hazelbeech church- 
yard, only a short time before his friend. 

The funeral procession on April 12, 1907, walked 
across the fields to the parish church, following the body, 
which was borne on the old Yarmouth herring-cart an 
incident which the mourners felt was characteristic of 
their departed friend. At Mr. Pell's expressed wish the 
service was read by the Rev. William Bury, rector of 
Harlestone and formerly rector of Hazelbeech, who for 
many years was chairman of the Brixworth Board of 
Guardians and Mr. Pell's firm ally and comrade in the 
work of Poor Law reform. The church was crowded by 
neighbours and by friends from a distance, all anxious to 
show their respect for the fine old English gentleman 
who had worked and fought among them without envy 
for so many years. 

The end was appropriately marked by the unveiling 
of the epitaph, the subject of much natural curiosity. 
The whole runs as follows : 






BORN AUGUST 23, 1825, 











BORN MARCH 12, 1820, 










AND DIED APRIL 7, 1907. 





EVERY one who knew Mr. Albert Pell will be glad to 
hear that he has left an autobiography, however incom- 
plete, for he was a man well worthy to be remembered. 
He had what is called a strong individuality. He was 
original, not so much in the sense of having a creative 
mind or an intellectually fertile mind as in his character 
and his view of life. His ideas, and indeed everything 
about him, were his own, and bore a distinctive stamp. 
His character stood out as something unlike what one 


had met before or would meet again. He lived according 
to his own lights, went his own way, and though very 
sociable and fond of his friends, was as little turned aside 
from it by the opinion of his neighbours or by public 
opinion generally as a sensible and open-minded man, 
who is also free from conceit, well can be. He had a clear, 
straight vision of facts : always knew his own mind and 
took his own path, counted self-help as the basis of all 
the virtues, and inculcated it by precept as well as by 
example. The downrightness of his manner and the 
stringent consistency with which he carried out his views 
of the proper way of helping the poor, made him to 
those who knew him but slightly seem austere and 
almost grim. For the sentimental way of looking at 
things he had certainly a great aversion ; for vagueness 
and looseness of thought, some comtempt ; for pretence, 
imposture, unreality, insincerity, an indignation which 
he did not attempt to conceal. But he was essentially a 
kind-hearted man and a true friend of the poor. His 
campaign of many years against Outdoor Relief, a work 
which occupied his time and engaged his interest more 
than anything else, was undertaken far more for what he 
deemed to be the good of the poor than it was for the 
reduction of the rates. He loathed waste, and loathed 
even more than waste the selfish, lazy heedlessness which 
relieved its own feelings and earned a little cheap popu- 
larity by giving away other people's money and calling 
it charity. Thus he came to be regarded, not indeed 
by those poor who knew him personally, or by his col- 
leagues on the Board of Guardians of Brixworth Union, 
but by a considerable part of the country round as a 
hard, stern administrator, when he was really doing his 
utmost to give the poor a sense of independence, and 


when, in point of fact, the poor of his Union were faring 
better under his bracing regime than were those of the 
laxer unions which lacked the courage or the painstaking 
diligence to follow his methods. 

The genuine warmth of heart which endeared him 
to those who knew him was reinforced by an abounding 
sense of humour. He had an unusual gift for getting 
into the mind of farmers and labourers, and was full 
of anecdotes illustrating their ways of thinking and acting. 
The keen look of scrutiny and determination which his 
face usually wore was relieved by the brightest possible 
twinkle in his blue eyes a twinkle which promised fun. 
The fun was sure to come. When he talked about the 
country, or indeed about his personal experiences any- 
where, in travel or in Parliament, he had a way of seeing 
into the inner minds of the people which only the lover 
of mankind has. Nor was his humour cynical. He was 
always keen, sometimes perhaps a little too outspoken. 
He did not mince his censure, which he liked to deliver 
in a few strong words, repeated twice or thrice with 
increasing emphasis. But there was no malice in it, and 
it was usually directed, not against weakness, but against 
ignorance or folly or meanness, and most of all against 
pretence and humbug, which he thought particularly rife 
in the field of what is called charity. 

He knew the life of the poor not only in Northampton- 
shire but in the East of London also, where he had some 
house property, and took a great interest in local admin- 
istration. Many were the tales he told of his dealings with 
them there ; where I suspect he did not always act up to 
his own rigid principles of self-help. But he was primarily 
a man of the country, rural and even agricultural. Though 
the son of a London lawyer, educated at Rugby under 


Arnold, and at Trinity College, Cambridge, he had, and, 
I think, liked to have, the air of a farmer. His figure 
and his dress, and his weather-beaten complexion, and 
his bluff manner, expressing himself shortly and plainly 
(though with a swiftness and point which were by no 
means bucolic), added to the impression. He did not, 
however, show any fondness for field sports at least, 
during the last thirty years of his life, when I knew him. 
In everything relating to agriculture his interest was 
inexhaustible. No one followed the progress of science 
in its application to the land with closer attention ; 
no one was more eager to see a proper system of educa- 
tional preparation for the agriculturist's life set on foot ; 
while all that pertained to the history of the English 
land system, manors, and common fields, and so forth, 
was equally to his taste. 

Though he sat for a good while in the House of 
Commons and kept always in touch with public affairs, 
he was not an ardent politician, and no more of a party 
man than his sense of party loyalty required. His political 
opinions might have been described as half Tory, half 
Radical. It seemed an odd blend ; though " blend " is 
not the right term, for the Tory views and the Radical 
views were not mixed to make what used to be called a 
Liberal Conservative, but remained distinct, leaving 
him Tory in some points, a Radical in others. Yet why 
should we be surprised at finding a man of independent 
and vigorous mind taking from the doctrines of both 
parties what he found best ? It is only the want of initia- 
tive and the want of thought among most men that makes 
the phenomenon seem rare. Sensible Conservatives 
know how much force and truth there is in many 
of the views commonly ticketed as Liberal. Sensible 


Liberals feel the need for caution, and for regard to 
custom and tradition in politics ; nor do they fail to 
perceive the hollowness of some of the cries repeated by 
the unthinking members of their party, who fancy that 
abstract phrases can solve concrete problems. Albert 
Pell had a clear intellect, which cared nothing for party 
phrases or formulas. He had no fear of change, and 
had a genuine sympathy with the masses of the people. 
He was impatient of inefficiency. He wanted to see 
things pulled straight and existing evils cured. On this 
side, then, he was a Radical. But his early associations 
and his connection with the landed interest had taken 
him into the Tory party ; his doubts as to the policy 
of Disestablishment, and his contempt for what he 
would have called ignorant agitation and empty catch- 
words kept him on that side, with which he was, till 
Protection came to the front, in pretty close sympathy. 
But he was an impartially unsparing critic of both 
parties. He did not like the Whiggism of the great houses, 
though for his neighbour Lord Spencer he had the warmest 
respect and regard ; yet that never brought him nearer to 
the Tory gentry, in whose attitude in matters of local 
government he found little to praise. His own political 
interests lay chiefly in questions affecting the land and in 
economic questions generally. As I have already said, 
upon all Poor Law matters he was a Whig of the highest 
economic orthodoxy, going rather beyond the famous 
Poor Law Commission Report of 1834, in his aversion to 
outdoor relief, and scouting all proposals for Old Age 
Pensions. So, too, he was a convinced Free Trader, who 
made no reserves at all from Cobdenite principles. His 
friends found it hard to resist the temptation of mentioning 
in his presence the leaders of the new movement towards 


Protection, such a thunderclap of denunciation was sure 
to break from his lips. 

Albert Pell did not seem to have had any political 
ambitions, nor, indeed, did one discover in him any desire 
for fame or power. His life contented him. He was fond 
of travel. I once crossed Western America in his company 
and that of a large party. He enlivened everything and 
enjoyed everything and kept everybody alive by his 
humorous quips and sallies. He loved books, and 
read all the time when he was not walking round his 
farm. Besides economics, he seemed chiefly to enjoy 
biography, and the biographies of men who had lived 
rather than of those who had thought or written. Human 
character had a supreme interest for him. Abraham 
Lincoln was the hero to whom he most often referred as 
the type he admired. He knew the British poets, 
but did not talk much of them most, I think, of 
Robert Burns, in whom he found the humour and the 
directness of expression and the sense of actual life in 
which he delighted. His own style, like his talk, was 
individual and racy. In every letter there was sure to 
be something fresh and graphic, some touch of humour 
which could have come from no one else in that par- 
ticular way. He relished a joke against himself, and 
told me gleefully of the epitaph a friend proposed for 
him : 

Here lies Albert PeD. 
Relief at last. 

Besides books and the study of rural mankind, his 
third great source of joy was in Nature. He loved his 
own landscape round Hazelbeech, and used to sit in the 
front of his house and gaze with a satisfaction that never 


cloyed at the beautiful view which spread itself out 
beneath : green hills, with woods here and there covering 
their sides, and, beyond, a broad valley gently sloping to 
the south towards Northampton, whose houses were just 
discernible some ten miles away. This was what kept 
him living in the house after he had ceased to work 
the farm attached to it, for the view is perhaps the most 
admirable, in a sort of tranquil grace of line and harmony 
of colour, that one can find in all the country round, a 
country which few, except the fox-hunters of the Pytchley, 
ever traverse, and which those sons of Nimrod do not see 
when it is at its best, for its sweetest charm is a summer 
charm, and lies in the profusion of roses in the hedgerows 
and long the lanes. 

Much as he enjoyed this quiet Midland scenery, it 
did not give him quite enough stimulus to carry him 
through the year, so every June he went to the Lake 
Country and spent some weeks in Borrowdale, whose 
hills and rocks he loved beyond all others. It was part 
of him to like to come to the same place year after year. 
He held Borrowdale to be the most beautiful place any- 
where, and desired no better than to be in it again. His 
love of Nature included both the dumb creatures and the 
flowers ; and his piety, deep and true, but seldom ex- 
pressed in words, took most often the form of gratitude 
for the bounties and beauties in which he recognised 
the goodness of God. 

He was a philosopher, if ever there was one a philo- 
sopher not of the speculative type, but of the practical, 
which applies philosophy to life and shows its faith by 
its works. He saw everything in the daylight, himself 
included, had no conceit and no illusions, went his own 
way and pleased himself, yet so pleased himself as to be 


always regardful of others. He was a Stoic in bearing 
sickness and old age and such griefs as came upon him, 
the greatest of which was the death of his wife, with 
whom he had lived in unclouded happiness for many 
years. He was serene in old age, not repining at the 
decline of physical activity and the deafness which 
had come upon him his mental powers remained clear 
and strong as ever and managing to get pleasure out of 
the simple and long-familiar surroundings of his home. 
There was no moroseness, nor, though many things 
happened which he did not approve, and Brixworth 
Union fell away under new administrators from what he 
deemed its place of pride and honour, did he ever seem 
to yield to senile pessimism. If it be characteristic of 
a philosopher to see things as they are, to know one's 
own strength and one's own limitations, to adapt life to 
environment, to derive satisfaction from what one has 
and refrain from complaints that one has no more, these 
philosophic traits were his. Nor did his stoicism make 
him a less constant and affectionate friend, or ever 
reduce his genial and humorous interest in his fellow-men. 

The following comment from the Northampton Mercury , 
April 12, 1907, is so admirable and so justly appreciative 
that it is reproduced in extenso. It is written evidently 
by one who knew his subject well, and gives pleasing 
evidence of the homage that is paid to a strong, resolute, 
and honest character. As a local tribute written from 
among those who must occasionally have been buffeted 
and trampled on by Mr. Pell's reforming zeal the article 
is most interesting. 




THE above lines are a portion of the epitaph upon his memorial 
tablet in the south aisle of Hazelbeech Church written and 
erected by Mr. Albert Pell, whose lamented death removes from 
the scene of his earthly labours one of the great men the county 
of Northamptonshire has owned. In this one sentence Mr. 
Pell, at the ripe age of eighty, summed up with masterly judgment 
his life and character. His greatest admirer would claim for 
him nothing more ; his warmest opponent would subscribe to 
nothing less. In three phrases there are laid bare his whole 
work and disposition. There is not a word out of place, not a 
suggestion that is in the least exaggerated. His three great 
characteristics since early manhood were honesty of purpose, 
fearlessness of public opinion, and earnest endeavour for the 
good of others. The one foible of his character, if it be such, is 
also as plainly published in the above epitaph as if it were also 
incised in the enduring stone a supreme confidence in the wisdom 
and righteousness of his thoughts and acts. When he wrote 
that he served his generation by the will of God, Mr. Pell meant 
more than the phrase " Divine Permission " which appears in 
legal documents describing the Bishop of the Diocese ; he meant 
more even than the " Divine Providence " under which the 
Archbishop rules the Province of Canterbury he meant " Divine 
Approval." Mr. Pell believed that he was right, and a clear 
conscience was to him a guarantee of wisdom as well as righteous- 
ness. There was no false pride with Mr. Pell, and no false 
humility. No one ever passed more accurate judgment upon 
himself than did the squire of Hazelbeech when he wrote his 
epitaph over the grave of his beloved wife. Mr. Pell's training, 
from the time he left his parental roof for Rugby, was all towards 
the formation of strength of character towards the growth of 
a certain wilfulness of disposition which comes of great experience 
and deep religious piety. The son of sternly Christian parents 
both of consummate ability and knowledge ; bred among in- 
tellectual giants of the pre-Victorian era ; schooled under the 



greatest tutor of the nineteenth century ; the weak stripling, 
the trial of his mother, the caressed of his sister, the hope of his 
father, discovered his feet one day when he found his London 
rooms in the possession of a stranger. He turned at once from 
Law to Agriculture, and at a small farm near Harrow he applied in 
Middlesex those high principles which a succession of tutors, ending 
with Arnold of Rugby, had inculcated into his receptive mind. 
For young Pell had a wonderful gift of retaining and assimilating 
information. What he heard he knew, and what he knew he 
could always turn to practical account when the occasion arose. 
Just as agriculture gained him because of a trivial incident in 
Great Russell Street, so the unfortunate insane had in him the 
staunchest friend because when a boy he saw an idiot lad chained 
to an iron rod in the workhouse. The boy, who was brought 
to his senses by the kicks of his Rugby schoolfellows, grew to be 
a man who needed no other incentive than a right cause. It 
was the very righteousness of his position in all things that 
caused him just to miss the completest success and the greatest 
popular approval. He considered that what was right and best 
should so commend itself by those qualities, that no adventitious 
aids were needed. To be persuasive, to induce the acceptance 
of what was wise, occurred to him less and less as life advanced. 
Usually Mr. Pell was right in his views ; at times they were 
advanced and enforced in a way that made others think he was 
unsympathetic and perverse. And yet he not only was usually 
right, he was usually triumphant ; but it was a triumph won 
by sheer force of power and not by the arts of debate and devices 
of persuasion. He had a remarkable intuition, almost the seer's 
vision, on the ultimate result of a given line of action. More than 
thirty years ago, in the prosperous seventies, he predicted the 
great exodus, since experienced, from the village to the town. 
"Who," he asked, "would prefer to live in a badly lighted 
village, with almost no means of social recreation, and few, if 
any, opportunities for members of their families obtaining em- 
ployment or learning a trade, when they could have all those 
advantages in a town like Leicester ? " We have heard him 
deplore the shocking waste in the present sewerage system, by 
which nutriment meant for the land is wasted either on a special 
farm or pumped into the sea. China supported her teeming 


millions, he contended, mainly because there was no prodigal 
waste there of that sort. He was against waste everywhere, 
and nowhere more than in the administration of the Poor Law. 
Outdoor relief was, he believed, an exceedingly wasteful system 
wasteful in money and wasteful in character. He was one 
of the foremost when the railway was made in his district in per- 
suading the navvies to save their money instead of spending it 
at the canteen. He deplored the waste resulting from the policy 
of allowing the canals and other waterways of the country to 
become unused ; and like Mr. Gladstone, whom he admired 
sometimes, whilst Mr. Gladstone admired him always, he was 
a firm believer in fruit growing, petite culture, and poultry 
raising. Although an owner of more than a thousand acres in 
the Isle of Ely, he always held that landlords did not fairly meet 
tenants in the matter of rent when agricultural depression set 
in. He wanted many agrarian reforms, from improvement in 
land tenures and the incidence of taxation to better market 
arrangements and legislation respecting boundary fences. With 
it all he was an earnest advocate of scientific farming and 
the scientific education of farmers. His Homeric largeness on 
land and other matters, moreover, kept him a sturdy Free 
Trader from first to last. Protection he never believed in, 
and he never would though he lived to be as old as Methuselah. 
In December of 1903 he wrote an invaluable letter to The Times 
upon this question ; and Mr. Pell possessed among his many 
abilities a real literary gift. The appreciative account of the late 
Lady Isham that he penned for these columns on that lady's 
lamented death in 1898 contained passages worthy of a place 
with gems of English literature. As a student who had watched 
" Disraeli, Peel, Cobden, Bright, Lord George Bentinck, and 
other heroes engaged in the struggle out of which Free Trade 
emerged, to become, apparently, the permanent policy of Great 
Britain," it was bewildering to find in 1903 a startling command 
from a bold buccaneer (Mr. Chamberlain) to beat a retreat. 
As was his wont, incisively Mr. Pell went to the root of the matter : 
" after having just spent 250 millions in war some depression 
might surely be expected now and for some years to come." 
A small Protective duty he scornfully described as " a homoeo- 
pathic tonic," and above all things Mr. Pell was an^allopath. 


Agriculture had been depressed his rents had come down fifty 
per cent. but improvement was already visible. " We have 
passed through the valley of the shadow of death, but what sort 
of a resurrection does Mr. Chamberlain promise us ? Better 
not let his glittering picture of this future Elysium divert our 
attention from present business. There are reassuring features 
in the stockyards and pastures, in dairy and poultry produce, 
in artificial manuring for grass land, in the acknowledged superi- 
ority of home-fed over foreign meat, in the residential value of 
land in favoured districts, in the rising value of rural land follow- 
ing the introduction of any flourishing manufactures with an 
increased population, and in other potentialities. These are not 
Jack o' Lanterns, they are real and tangible, if not very magni- 
ficent ; let us make the best of them." And there we may leave 
it. We commend to all politicians the remembrance that North- 
amptonshire's great Conservative agriculturist, he whose long 
life had been spent in the study and practice of agriculture, whose 
knowledge of farming was not excelled by half a dozen living 
men in the country, was convinced by his wide experience and 
intimate acquaintance with the subject, that Protection is baneful 
to the community and disastrous to the poor, and that for Great 
Britain, the policy of free ports was the wisest, the most humane, 
and most beneficial to her working millions. 




I can sit and amuse myself with my own memory, and yet find new 
stores at every audience that I give to it. H. WALPOLE, Letters, 2343, 

BORN in 1820, now over eighty-six years ago, time has 
carried me through many changes ; from tallow candles, 
snuffers, and rushlights to electric glare ; from the tinder- 
box and brimstone matches to lucifers ; from flint and 
steel fowlingpieces, with powder-flask, shot-belt, and 
wadding, to the breech-loader and cartridge ; from 
hackney coaches with straw on the bottom to hansom 
cabs with indiarubber mats and mirrors ; from pair-horse 
coaches between the Bank and Edgware Road to omni- 
buses and motor-cars ; from the hobby-horse to the 
bicycle ; from the Margate hoy and waterman's wherries 
to the excursion steamer, Thames tunnel, and tubes ; 
from Vauxhall Gardens to the Crystal Palace ; from the 
lions at the Tower and the elephant at Cross's Menagerie 
in the Strand to the Zoological Gardens at the Regent's 
Park ; from the twopenny postman and eightpenny letter 
to the halfpenny postcard and the telephone ; from the 
semaphore to the wire and the aerial Marconi ; from the 
seamstresses' fingers and thimble to the sewing machine ; 
from the heavy gold watch, fob, chain, and dangling seals 
to the compact repeater in the waistcoat pocket ; from 



the sale of our wives to the Divorce Court ; from paving- 
stones to wood and asphalte ; from cesspools to sewers ; 
from the black gown to the surplice ; from Tate and 
Brady to Hymns, Ancient and Modern ; from the terrors 
of the surgeon's scalpel and the dentist's wrench to 
anaesthetic indifference and composure ; from inocula- 
tion to vaccination, and back again to the "conscientious " 
blockhead ; from the sightless socket to glass eyes to 
match ; from dabs of rouge to " beautiful for ever " ; 
from polite conversation to slang ; from the coat of 
many capes to the mackintosh ; from George IV. to Queen 
Victoria and King Edward VII. ; from Brown Bess to 
the Lee-Enfield ; from the line-of -battleship's broadside 
to the torpedo destroyer ; from the decrepit watchman, 
with lanthorn and rattle, bawling " Half -past one and a 
windy night," to the silent policeman and the dark lamp ; 
from Whitbread's drowsy pots to Bass's brisk bottles ; 
from the village stocks and cold cage to cells with the 
chill off ; from Hodge and the dungcart to artificials and 
attorneys-at-law ; 1 from pattens to gum-boots ; from the 
flail to the steam thresher ; from books and magazines to 
penny papers; while the porters' knot and the warming-pan 
are now only curiosities, objects for municipal museums. 

My grandfather was living in the reign of George I. 
George III. was alive in the year of my birth. I was at 
my mother's breast when Thistlewood, the Cato Street 
conspirator, was hanged, and more than a year old when 
the great Napoleon died at St. Helena. 

On the very spot where the Great Western Railway 
engine-sheds first stood at Paddington I have killed a 
garden snake ; and within a mile of the Sudbury Station 

1 Mr. Pell had a theory that recent agricultural legislation had greatly 
increased the opportunities of the lawyers. 

of the London & North- Western Railway I have shot 
the wild duck's flappers hatched in the brook near the 
Harrow Road. The lingering glamour of Jack Sheppard's 
audacity and crimes still made Willesden famous, and I 
trod with a beating heart the lane at Elstree, where 
Thurtell cut Weare's throat, looking almost breathless 
through the cottage window into the room where the 
accomplices made their supper of pork chops brought 
down from the Edgware Road by Thurtell in his gig, to- 
gether with the doomed man and the spade. It was at 
Thurtell's trial that the cook, having been asked by the 
judge whether the supper was not postponed, promptly 
replied, " No, my lord, it were pork." 

We lived at the edge of a great wood on the northern 
border of Middlesex with no neighbours within a mile 
save some of doubtful character, so the family blunder- 
buss was fired at night about once a fortnight, to announce 
that the household was armed, and a few mantraps and 
spring guns were " set " in the coverts, or at all events 
were declared to be so set, by notice boards warning evil- 
doers and trespassers to beware. From my nursery 
window in London I contemplated the back of Montagu 
House, dull, dirty, and gloomy beyond expression, where 
the sentries sadly paced to and fro, or surprised one by 
popping out of their sentry-boxes with the most startling 
alacrity. Not very far off, but quite in the country, as 
is shown by the name, Chalk Farm was still the scene of 
duels. The Red House at Battersea was reserved for 
pigeon shooting, Finchley Common and Hounslow Heath 
for footpads and highwaymen. My mother, when a girl, 
used to come to London for the season from Bedford- 
shire on horseback, with her sister ; on these occasions 
they slept at Woburn Abbey in order to cross Finchley 


Common before dusk, travelling with two well-armed 
mounted servants, one in front and one behind, as an 
escort. The plate, the linen, and the toilettes were con- 
veyed to town in one of the estate wagons. A Scots 
lady whom I knew, and who died almost recently at a very 
great age, told me that when she moved from winter 
quarters at Dingwall to the family place on the West 
coast, a perfect cavalcade of Highland ponies and re- 
tainers was required. She mounted her pony and rode 
the distance, about sixty miles, in the day, with the plate 
jingling behind on another pony, along a wild rocky track 
in the woods overhanging Loch Maree. I have seen the 
track, still traceable. The ponies and their riders must 
have known their business well to get through with no 
bones broken. 

I call to mind many things long abandoned, but once 
usual and natural taking wine or pledging at table ; 
nicking saddle-horses' tails that they might be carried 
high with an air of breeding, and close-docking the cart- 
horses' tail to a stump ; the London cries ; Captain 
Swing, and the very general burning of ricks ; sheep- 
stealing and consequent hangings ; turnpikes, church 
pews, and the formal smelling of the inside of the hat as 
a public act of adoration or ritual before joining in the 
Church service ; general phlebotomy in the spring, and 
the child's dose of medicine before going to the seaside ; 
prayers for fine weather and for rain, supposed to be 
efficacious agencies in agriculture ; Bedlam and public 
hanging ; Burking and garrotting ; smothering for hydro- 
phobia ; night-caps with tassels ; oysters, the best, at a 
shilling a score ; ruffs and reeves at Wisbech Quarter 
Sessions dinners ; and for songs, " I'd be a butterfly born 
in a bower," " Wear the green willow," " Turn about 


and wheel about and jump, Jim Crow," " The last rose 
of summer," " Three jolly post-boys," " Sally in our 
alley," " I remember, I remember, how my childhood 
fleeted by," " Polly, put the kettle on," with others 
whose echoes haunt the memory. 

Leaving generalities, probably of little interest to most 
of those now living, I recall the domestic simplicity, the 
plainness, and, some might think, the hardness of my 
childhood. I was up in winter by candlelight ; why 
so early I cannot conceive. I thought it unkind of my 
father and mother to remain comfortably in bed while 
I spent the first cold hours of the day in wandering about 
the rooms, and observing how the housemaids cleaned 
the grates (bright steel), polished the fire-irons, swept 
the carpets, using tea-leaves to lay the dust, dusted the 
furniture, and festooned the curtains. They wore mob 
caps, and their elbows were red. My godmother lived 
a few doors from us in London. The conscientious dis- 
charge of her responsibility has left no doubt in my mind 
that the abhorrences of those days were the Church 
Catechism and a horsehair sofa on which I was set to 
study and commit it to memory. At the end of a listless 
hour, if my repetition was faulty, I was set to learn by 
heart the page in the Book of Common Prayer which treats 
of the discovery of the Epact. 1 Oh, the cruelty of it ! 
But I was waxing in strength if not in wisdom, and when 
the attempt was made to try my patience and memory 
with the Thirty-nine Articles', I rose hi violent remon- 
strances and rebellion, and with the bolster of the horse- 
hair sofa, standing on its scroll for vantage, crushed the 

1 Epact, a number indicating the excess of the solar above the lunar 
year. The Epact is, therefore, the number of days between the last 
new moon of the old year and the first day of January in the New Year. 


new bonnet of the season and was handed over to the arm 
of the secular powers. It was painful, but I was freed. 

Then came the " first school." I began with the Latin 
grammar at Kensington Gravel Pits. There was a very 
big boy whose ways I studied ; there were medium-sized 
boys whose ways I avoided ; and small boys some of 
whom I fought with varied, generally poor, success. I 
have no recollection of what I learnt from the master of 
the Academy, who ere long cut his throat ; but as I went 
home on Saturdays at noon, and on my legs, I began my 
real education by converse with the world, trudging 
along the Bayswater Road and the by-streets leading to 
Cavendish Square, where I call to mind the pursuit of a 
pickpocket, a soldier's funeral with the firing party, a 
dancing bear, an impostor on the pavement in an epileptic 
fit, and a bull pursued by butchers. The establishment 
of credit with a woman at an orange-stall who also dealt 
in " hardbake," followed by seemingly insurmountable 
financial difficulties, caused some painful reflections ; but 
I determined to pay my creditor in full, and succeeded, 
though never in after-life, when the amounts involved 
were vastly more serious, did the sense of embarrass- 
ment so sorely distress me. On Saturday afternoons I 
had liberty to go home till Monday morning. The house 
in London was in Harley Street. One object of interest 
on my route was in Cavendish Square a family mansion 
almost completely concealed by a gloomy, dingy, high 
brick wall which surrounded it. Some virulent disorder, 
I think the cholera, was alarming the town, and I occa- 
sionally saw the twopenny postman fling his packet over 
the top of the high wall, being forbidden, for fear of in- 
fection, to hand them in to the porter. 

When I went to my country home between Pinner and 


Watford, I left the Bayswater Road (then lined on the 
north side with market gardens), and struck off at an 
angle for the Harrow Road, where, at the Red Lion, the 
Harrow coach would pick me up and carry me on. 
Opposite the Red Lion, in a field which stretched away 
till it was bounded on the north-east by the Paddington 
Canal, was a maze, a melancholy arrangement of sooty 
white- thorn hedges out of which I never saw a soul depart. 
I avoided it therefore, under the impression that extrica- 
tion was an impossibility for any one who once ventured 
within its intricacies. On the road to Harrow near the 
village of Harlesden was a lane to the right, leading, 
according to the sign-post, to Willesden. I yearned to 
explore this lane, on the chance of its leading to the village 
cage from which Jack Sheppard made his historical 
escape. Footpads and cattle-stealers infested the high- 
way, and the sight of the first mounted patrol before the 
days of the " bobbies " was very reassuring. In the 
spring, " buy a broom "-girls in German or Swiss costume 
paraded the streets with their brooms (some curled deal 
shavings fastened by wire at the end of a short handle), 
and strapping wenches brought on then* heads huge 
baskets from Battersea filled with pottles of the most 
fragrant unbruised strawberries. 

The polling for a Parliamentary election lasted for 
days, and riot and drunkenness accompanied its progress. 
My father, being an unflinching Liberal and a speaker 
of some note, was on such an occasion very much alive. 
I can well remember one such election. On the morning 
of the nomination my father and I breakfasted with 
the Byngs at No. 5, St. James's Square, and it was then, 
hi the winter of 1826, as a very small boy that I had my 
first introduction to political strife at a Middlesex election. 


The breakfast was by candlelight in a very fine room 
wonderfully bright with the flames of thick, yellow-wax 
candles. I was placed next the lady of the house, 
and opposite me was a dish of tempting fresh straw- 
berries. I was surprised at this freak of nature, but 
lost no time in taking advantage of it. On coming out 
of the house to get into one of the carriages, of which 
there was a lengthy cavalcade in the square, I was nearly 
swept off the pavement by a ringing box on the ears 
from my father, who added that he would teach me 
" to eat everything set before me." That ear was warm 
for the rest of the day and seems to tingle now. It 
was a very cold drive down to Brentford, but it became 
interesting as we neared the scene of action. The 
boarded hustings were elevated on posts high above 
the seething mob. There was much noise, but no stone 
or egg throwing, for the mob, or non-electors, were all 
for Byng and his party, and we mounted the hustings 
unmolested. My father with Mr. Byng had to come to 
the front, and I was placed almost between his legs and 
immediately over a boarded balcony or trough filled 
with men equipped with pencils and paper. My father's 
speech concluded with a quotation from Shakespeare, 
and one of the reporters below, touching my projecting 
toe with his pencil, said, " Ask the gentleman where 
those verses come from." I did so, and my father said, 
" Tell the dunce they were written by a Mr. William 

Those were troubled times, great principles were at 
stake. My father's two closest friends were William 
Wilberforce and Dr. Adam Clarke, and Slavery, and 
Reform in Church and State, were the constant subjects 
of conversation at his table. Wilberforce used to stay 


a night with him in the country, and on one of these 
visits my nurse told me that Mr. Wilberforce would 
come in a " glass coach." " Another Cinderella," I 
thought, and, thawing the cold frosty pane with my 
breath, I watched at the nursery window upstairs for 
this crystal turn-out, only to see the old statesman arrive 
at last in a dingy green conveyance with hardly any 
glass, not altogether unlike a bathing-machine. I came 
down after dinner to dessert, or possibly it may have 
been earlier in the meal, as the table-cloth was still on the 
table. Wilberforce was not sitting square to the table, 
but had one elbow on it, and the other hand was crumbling 
some overdone toast and making a fearful mess. The 
conversation between the two men was most animated. 
My mother was silent, and I sidled up against her and got 
an orange, but I felt a giant was in the room. 

Not long after my father's marriage Wilberforce took 
my mother in to dinner, and among other things asked her 
what books she read. The answer was, " Hannah More." 
" Well," said Wilberforce, " I can tell you of something 
quite as interesting your husband would perhaps say 
more so ; it is a book I know he admires ' Tom Jones,' 
by Fielding." Some years after this, at Rugby, Dr. 
Arnold recommended my schoolfellow Arthur Stanley 
to read Smollett's " Humphry Clinker," telling him at 
the same time that it was a book he thought so well 
of that he had read it fifty times. 1 Stanley, writing to 
his mother, informed her that he had read the book 
the Doctor recommended, and thinks it will be very 
interesting to visit the places (no doubt the watering- 
places) of which an account is there given. The day 

1 The fact is recorded in a letter from Stanley to his home. See 
" Life of Dean Stanley," vol. i. p. 65. 


has now gone by when so devout a man as the author 
of " Practical Christianity " would select " Tom Jones " 
as a novel for a lady, or so religious a headmaster as 
Thomas Arnold advise a boy on entering Rugby to take 
to " Humphry Clinker " for fiction. But has any novelist 
surpassed Fielding in the picture he gives of purity, 
constancy, and love in the beautiful person of Sophia 
Western ? Certainly no one. And where would one 
find a more delightful character than in Smollett's 
Matthew Bramble, or a more vivid and amusing 
description of the ways and manners of the country and 
the " taste of the town " in the mid-eighteenth century 
than in his company ? 

Before parting with Wilberforce I have an incident 
in his life worth recording. Among my older friends 
was a doctor of medicine who was born in York 
and died some years ago m the midland counties 
at a good age. When he was an infant in arms, 
his nurse, attracted, as women will be, by a crowd, 
was swept by an election mob to the very foot of the 
York hustings at a famous contest for the county in 
which Wilberforce was one of the principal actors. With 
all the earnestness and vigour which distinguished him, 
he was pressing his beneficent views on the Abolition of 
Slavery. Carried away by the depth of his convictions 
and enthusiastic inspiration, he reached over the balcony, 
and snatching the baby from the arms of its astonished 
nurse, held it up over his head in the face of the people, 
exclaiming, " See this, and hear my prophecy. Before 
this child dies, there will not be a white man in the world 
owning a slave." My friend survived the Civil War in 
the United States, and virtually Wilberforce's prophecy 
was fulfilled. 


Church service was a dreary affair. We were all 
mewed up in high, deal-panelled pews above which, when 
the congregation was seated, only the very crowns of 
the men's heads and the summits of the ladies' head- 
dresses could be seen. There was no organ or other 
instrument. The parish clerk an object of detestation, 
for he was also the rate collector was boxed in under 
the reading-desk, a stout old bald fellow with a florid 
face and a husky, powerful voice. I fancy I hear him 
now proclaiming " the morning hymn," " Awake, my 
soul, and with the sun," and then really leading the 
congregation. My younger brothers, though there was 
an interval of eighteen months in their ages, were both 
baptized at the same time, and, for some reason or other 
(it may have been a common practice), not in church, 
but in the library of my father's house ; and I was 
startled by the elder of them, when mention was made 
during the service of Noah and his family having been 
mercifully saved from perishing by water, rising from his 
knees and announcing that he possessed a Noah's ark ! 

These were the days of the old Poor Law and the 
" roundsmen." * Young as I was, their idleness and in- 
difference struck me. They seemed all alike, no one better, 
no one worse than another, and gave the idea of being 
the victims of chronic fatigue. There was a gravel- 
pit on the estate, and our predecessor, who farmed the 
whole of it, employed the roundsmen whom the authorities 
imposed on him in raising gravel. As their unpunctuality 
was on a par with their indolence, he had one of his barrows 
larger than the others with a very indifferent wheel. The 

* Under the old Poor Law, the parish authority allocated the 
" unemployed " to the different farmers in turn, for employment. Such 
labourers were termed roundsmen. 


man who arrived last had to wheel this all day. Beggars 

v OO 

and tramps were up and down the country in all direc- 
tions. A neighbour gave, but not for nothing ; he was 
well aware that he could not decide whether the applicant 
was deserving or not, but industry, he knew, was dis- 
tasteful and beneficial ; so keeping a bag of feathers 
in readiness, and going out on the common, he threw a 
handful in the air, with the remark that they must be 
all picked up and brought to him before he put his hand 
in his pocket. 

For gipsies I had ever a great regard, as pictur- 
esque and mysterious. Their dogs seemed to be bad 
characters, not so their owners. By never avoiding 
them I hoped some day to fall in with the King of 
the Gipsies. Even in my old age I regret the way 
in which the police have thinned them out, and almost 
abolished them ; and I regard the operations of the 
Society for the Preservation of Commons as defective in 
not preserving these wanderers, who might at least 
have been inserted in the Wild Birds' Preservation Acts 
as equally, if not more, entitled to protection. At least, 
they should be allowed a close time during which no 
legal process should run against them. I always thought 
Landseer, with his aristocratic models for gillies and 
crofters, a poor painter in omitting these from his pictures, 
and Morland the better artist for making them his study. 
When Whittlesea Mere was bright with water, one 
family of gipsies made a living by capturing for collectors 
the " swallow tail," a very rare and beautiful butterfly 
that fluttered among its reeds and sedges, also the large 
copper butterfly equally rare. So it was in my young 
days ; but now all is gone reeds, sedges, the glittering 
water, the butterflies, the gipsies, the bitterns, the 


wild fowl, and in its place, as the result of an enormous 
and unprofitable outlay, a dreary flat of black arable 
land, with hardly a jack snipe to give it a charm and 
characteristic attraction. 

My father's country house stood on high ground 
among some picturesque old Scotch firs, elms, and limes. 
On the north the boundary was a large wood, almost 
a forest ; to the east were old enclosures well timbered ; 
on the south-east the lawn and garden ran down to 
" our wood " of about forty or fifty acres ; while on the 
south and south-west were the recent enclosures of the 
parish open field, each about ten acres square, and bare. 
His enclosures my father had planted, when he first 
bought the property, with sheltering plantations of fir 
and oak. These, being about twelve feet high, and dense 
with branches, formed my birds' nesting-ground. Every 
sixth tree seemed to be selected by some bird black- 
bird, thrush, chaffinch, hedge-sparrow, or torn-tit as a 
nursery. In " our wood " I searched and climbed for 
the eggs of the wood-pigeon, the jay, the magpie, the 
hawk, and carrion crow. In the old orchard I was sure 
to find the missel- thrush in the fork of a tree, and later on, 
in the smaller boughs, the goldfinch, for thistles 
abounded. I can never forget that these excursions at 
early hours were made delightfully pleasant by the 
fragrance of the wedge of home-made bread I carried 
in my hand, and the clean, almost aromatic smell of the 
new nest of the chaffinch. The latter remains for me, 
in my old age, to revive the dreams of my childhood, 
but the wholesome, life-giving fragrance of the home- 
made bread of 1827 is gone for ever. Rolling-mills, 
" Hungarian whites," baking-powder, and aerated 
preparations satisfy a generation who nowadays go in 


for colour, or the unsatisfactory substitute of wholemeal 
or Hovis. 

Looking south from our lawn, the dome of St. Paul's 
loomed up when the bank of smoke was lighter 
than usual. From this spot on one eventful night, 
in October 1834, I saw the Houses of Parliament 
in flames. In the west the towers of Windsor Castle 
awakened my historical imagination, stirred by Mrs. 
Trimmers' history ; and to the north-east on a clear 
day I could make out the long, low roof and turrets of 
St. Alban's Abbey. In fact, I was living at a home 
remarkable for its lovely views and scenery. The 
observation of a child is very close, closer than that of 
an adult, and being constantly in the company of an 
elder sister (a born artist, in after-years an acquaintance 
and frequently the sketching companion not a pupil 
of David Cox and painting with him in the open air), 
the landscape in all its breadth and its minutest details 
was brought home to my heart and bosom. 

For a neighbour we had an uncle whose place with 
rival views joined my father's. He was a judge, a hand- 
some, heavy man, with a countenance that somehow or 
another seemed to associate him with sentences of death 
and Jack Ketch. He had a nice pair of cobs, and was 
fond of trying horse cases. While a King's Serjeant 
he would, when engaged in one of these cases, if it made 
for his client, have the horse in dispute, possibly a glan- 
dered or worthless screw, near the court, and get his 
verdict by taking the jury to view it. 

The flora of the district was not remarkable, but in- 
cluded the single wild daffodil, or Lent lily, which, in 
March, made the edges of " our wood " beautiful with its 
great patches of blossom. It took my boyish fancy be- 


yond measure, and one of the distresses of my school life 
was absence from home when it was in its glory. In fact, 
it was not until I was eighteen that I renewed my ac- 
quaintance with its lovely presence. 

The village of Pinner was a picturesque one, the houses 
placed on either side of a road straggling up hill to the 
church at the top, flanked by the butcher's old-fashioned, 
tiled premises, shaded by a grand pollard elm. Opposite 
to this, but a hundred yards away, standing on a well- 
cropped " green," was the house of the churchwarden, 
behind which was the trim but substantial ricks of one 
of the best of the Middlesex hay farmers ; while on 
Sunday in front stood two or three carts loaded, with 
their cloths on, ready to start at night for the London 
market. At the bottom of the village, running at right 
angles to the " street," was a slow, muddy stream, on the 
other side of which was the Workhouse, approached by 
a plank bridge on its gloomy north side. Thither I was 
taken on many a Sunday morning by my indignant 
father, who immediately hastened through the hall to 
a door on the south side opening on to a walk that bor- 
dered the whole length of the building. Along this walk 
stretched for some yards an iron rod, fastened to the wall 
at either end. On this rod ran an iron ring, with a short 
chain and shackle. To this shackle the village idiot was 
fastened by his ankle, and so, passing from right to left 
and left to right in the blazing sun or the bitter wind, took 
his exercise and wore away his life. Placing me for a 
minute or so in front of this exhibition, my father, in a 
very solemn tone, said, " This sort of thing must be 
altered. If it is not done in my lifetime, mind you help 
to do it in yours." 

I lived to be for seventeen years a member of the Metro- 


I M .1 it MM Asylums Board, where we had these miseries in 
our humane charge. My father had been for some time 
exerting himself as an active Middlesex magistrate on 
behalf of lunatics ; their treatment at that time was 
simply horrible. He lived to see his views carried out 
and to take a leading part in the establishment of the 
asylum at Hanwell, the first public asylum, I imagine, in 
which the unhappy inmates were treated with humane 
consideration. When the building at last was completed 
and opened for patients, we visited it together frequently 
my first acquaintance, as a boy, with the insane. I did 
not like these excursions, never feeling safe even with the 
warders. During one visit a poor creature, trusted to 
assist hi the kitchen, plunged his head into a copper of 
boiling soup. Another, apparently perfect in his senses, 
used to appeal to my father for his discharge. He had 
been convicted of shooting with a pistol at Mr. Harris, 
the optician, in Great Russell Street, but escaped punish- 
ment (the gallows, probably, in those days) on the plea of 
insanity, and so came into Hanwell. The doctors, on full 
consideration of his case, sanctioned his discharge ; where- 
upon he lost no time in finding his way to Bloomsbury 
and having another shot, again a bad one, at Mr. Harris. 
At the time of Quarter Sessions, held at Clerkenwell 
Sessions House, I accompanied my father to London. 
My nurse's brother was the principal turnkey in Newgate 
Prison, and, for want of a better way of keeping me out of 
mischief, the carriage dropped me at the door of the 
prison, where Mr. Brown received me as a visitor with 
much civility. I felt safer here than at Hanwell. The 
first thing I observed was the remarkable absence of wall 
papers ; instead, the dull surfaces of dark stone were re- 
lieved, in the officers' quarters, with the brightest of white- 


wash. The hand-cuffs, gyves, and long shackles for the 
legs, beautifully scoured up, almost mesmerised me as I 
stared at them, arrayed in loops on the wall. Every- 
thing seemed very cramped in the building, the passages 
ever so narrow, while the yards were duplicates in pattern 
and dimensions of Daniel's lions' den as depicted in a 
woodcut in my schoolroom. I was given a book and a 
chair in the room garnished with the manacles, and in 
time Mr. Brown came to " take me round." I took very 
little interest in the prisoners. They were a duller set 
than the maniacs. Even the spectacle (a common one then) 
of the condemned who were to be hanged next Monday 
produced no serious emotion, and I cannot call to mind 
the features of any one of them ; there were so many in 
those days in that plight. What did stir me was the 
chapel. As far as I remember, it was on the plan of a 
theatre. On the stage were the seats of the officials, in 
the centre the chaplain's desk, on either side of it two 
or more recesses in which were placed, upright, the open 
coffins of those awaiting execution. (Am I dreaming 
this ?) In the semi-circle opposite was seated the crowd 
of prisoners. Those condemned to death took no part 
in the service. In the passages under the flag-stones lay 
buried the fruit of the gallows. Mr. Brown was very 
kind to me, but there was a feeling of restraint accompany- 
ing his presence from which I was glad to escape, and the 
drive home, twelve miles, afterwards was particularly 

There were some very kind and charming neighbours 
at a country house near the village. The family was 
remarkable for classical and historical talent ; and in 
their drawing-room I was privileged to scan the features 
and listen to the words of one or two authors of note and 



of a day then almost gone. Of these, Mrs. Opie was one, 
the primmest old lady of all those I had in reverence, a 
daughter of the talented house of Alderson. I see her 
now, in the neatest possible cap and shawl, sitting very 
upright and rather silent. Mrs. Trollope, the mother of 
Anthony Trollope, was another not at all prim, neat, or 
silent. I was not of an age to appreciate their society or 
to take advantage from it. I only used my eyes and ears 
on these occasions. I liked, however, playing bowls with 
Judge Alderson. The news of the death of Dr. Arnold 
came to us both in the middle of a game. I don't know 
which retired the sadder, the judge or myself. 

At home I was constantly reminded of the dearness 
of articles of food and drink. The tea-caddy was kept 
locked up and the keys in my mother's pocket. Green 
tea was then 13s. a pound, and only a " pinch was al- 
lowed in the pot." The tea leaves, after they left the 
breakfast-room, supplied two further decoctions, one for 
the servants, and a second for the labourers, whose wives 
called at the back door for them. Brown sugar real, 
good, sticky brown sugar was what sweetened my tea 
upstairs, when I was allowed tea instead of milk. The 
vinegar was made at home, so was the ink, generally 
rather pale. The vinegar making seemed simple. Some 
beer with additions was put in jars and then set in the 
sun against the garden wall at the foot of old apricot trees, 
and in the course of time, by the help of a good hot sun, 
there came out vinegar. I thought this quite as mar- 
vellous as anything achieved by Pharaoh's magician. 

Our letter-bag arrived at breakfast time, 8 o'clock. 
It was a light delivery, but a costly one. My letter from 
school cost Sd., the reply the same, which limited the cor- 
respondence between my mother and myself. Is the 


penny post for family correspondence really less costly ? 
The bag always arrives now in the " family way," and 
stamps are bought by the pound's worth to refill it. 

Then was the period for " Captain Swing's " exploits, 
of which the most conspicuous was the burnings of ricks 
hay-ricks near home which burnt slowly but invincibly. 
The newspapers were full of riots : in Ireland of course 
plenty, but in England as well ; at Merthyr Tydvil and 
in the Forest of Dean, where fifty miles of fencing were 
pulled down, throwing open thousands of acres of planta- 
tions. Nottingham Castle was burnt, and Bristol was in 
flames. All this I learnt only from the newspapers, and it 
was mostly far away from home, but it gave rise to an un- 
comfortable feeling of danger and insecurity everywhere. 

The Reform Bill was in every one's mouth in my 
father's very much ; he wrote me many letters (I was 
only ten or eleven years old), full of anxiety and despond- 
ency, telling me that the fate of our country (" unhappy 
country," he called it) depended on the House of Lords, 
on concession or obstinacy on their part in the matter of 
" the BUI," " the whole Bill," and " nothing but the 
Bill." The Whigs, for a long time out of office and in the 
shade, but consistent and fighting resolutely as the ex- 
ponents and upholders of well-understood first principles, 
at last broke through the Tory ranks and came into 
power. Henry Brougham became Lord Chancellor, and it 
was not long before he was by the side of his old friend 
my father, who, having long abandoned his practice at the 
Bar as leader of the Circuit, still retained some rooms in 
Bloomsbury. Thither he resorted periodically to obtain 
the earliest copies of The Edinburgh Review and the new 
Waverley Novel. It was here, as I was seated with 
him, absorbed in his book, only lifting his head occa- 


eionally to desire me to snuff the candles, that we were 
both startled by a loud knock at the front door and by 
the servant entering in a flurried manner to say that there 
was a carriage outside with a very bold gentleman who 
desired to see my father and had sent up his card. " God 
bless me ! " exclaimed my father, " show him up " ; and 
in came the slim, towering figure of the new Lord Chan- 
cellor of England. There was a great shaking of hands 
with jokes which I did not understand, but which seemed 
to add to the high spirits of the friends, arid brought 
forth bursts of laughter that almost alarmed me. These 
subsided in a minute or two into an equally remarkable 
state of seriousness, Brougham earnestly urging some 
proposal in which he constantly made use of the word 
" Commissioner," and which was as constantly followed 
by my father's firm utterance of " No ! no ! " ; and then 
they parted. I believe Brougham had offered my father 
an appointment as a Commissioner of Bankruptcy, which 
he took to be infra dig. Brougham did not press the 
appointment, and his old friend was shortly raised to the 
bench of Judges.* Brougham introduced the one-horse 
carriage named after him. There was no coronet on its 
panels, only the letter B, and people said there was a 
Bee outside and a Wasp inside. I was taken up to these 
lodgings again very shortly on the occasion of the illu- 
minations for the passing of the Reform Bill, and saw 
them all, even to those at the Mansion House, in a surging, 
roaring mob, under the protection of the coachman. 
Before we started the housemaid came up, much alarmed, 
to say that the people in the street intended to smash the 

* Sir A. Pell retired from practice in 1825, and in 1831 was made 
one of the Judges of the Court of Review in Bankruptcy, a tribunal 
shortly afterwards abolished. 


windows if we did not illuminate, whereupon she was 
sent off to procure some pounds of tallow mould candles, 
which I assisted to cut up into three-inch lengths and to 
stick on the sash bars of the front windows upstairs and 
downstairs. This appeased the mob and saved the glass. 

In 1832 I left my home for Rugby, the public school in 
favour with the Liberals and Reformers, shortly to be- 
come so famous under Dr. Thomas Arnold. My father 
himself took me there outside a Manchester coach in the 
cold spring weather of April. He wore a recent invention 
by one Mackintosh, a waterproof cloak or cape. It 
smelt badly of dead poplar leaves, got stiff in frosty 
weather, and frightened the coach-horses as he mounted 
the coach side by the sharp, crackling sound it emitted. 
We arrived on a Saturday evening ; on the Sunday morn- 
ing I had my first sight of Arnold in his study, whither 
my father took me. Though they had never met before, 
they seemed to me to be quite old friends, they had so 
much in common in politics and religion. My name was 
entered on the school list by Arnold, and so interested 
had he evidently been in his new acquaintance that my 
Christian name was omitted and nothing but my surname 
entered, with the name and title of my father and his 
residence in London. My father received the Holy 
Communion at the hands of Arnold hi the school chapel, 
and left the next morning. 

It was a curious, though remarkable, introduction for 
a small boy, for I had no preliminary examination to 
settle the form in which I should begin. I wandered, 
however, in the " Big School " into a group or class of 
the smallest boys I could see, and thus enrolled myself 
in the third form, about the lowest in the school. I sat my- 
self down as far off as I could from the master, next to an 


overgrown, heavy-looking boy who smelt of suet. Before 
long I found he was the son of a butcher in the town. 
My master, I found to my sorrow, was an adept with 
the cane ; he resorted to it with little provocation or 
reason, as far as I could see possibly with the object of 
warming himself, on cold mornings. Anyhow, it did not 
fail of having that effect on me. I afforded him constant 
opportunities for his daily exercise. The cane some- 
times lapped round my open palm and broke off at the 
end, the fragment flying up to the ceiling. Mentally and 
physically I became callous, and I think I remained an 
inert sediment at the bottom of the class for over a year. 
Then Arnold took to examining the forms personally 
on a regular rota an alarming day ; most alarming to 
myself when I heard him say to the master of the form, 
" I observe this little boy [myself] to be always in 
the same place in the form. It will be well, I think, to 
remove him." I fancied he meant from the school. 
But no, I was sent up from the bottom of the form, over 
the heads of my fellow-sufferers, to the lower fourth. 
How strange it seemed to be taught without the cane ! 
But lacking that stimulant, I made no advance, and 
being then a hardened little reprobate, my new master, 
on one eventful morning, addressed the form on the 
difficulty he was placed in by my intrusion among his 
docile and intelligent pupils, and wound up by saying 
that, disgraceful as it was, he felt the necessity of intro- 
ducing a cane in order to " get me on." No cane had 
ever been wielded by him before, and he regretted ex- 
ceedingly (so did I) having to introduce one into the 
lower fourth. I was then sent down the town to procure 
the instrument myself and for myself. On the very 
first application I burst out laughing. The master was 


such a bungler. This cane, however, proved indirectly 
very efficacious. After receiving this absurd punish- 
ment at the master's desk, I had to return to my usual 
place at the bottom of the form, and was kicked on the 
ankles by at least twenty offended and scandalised 
companions during my passage. This was beyond 
endurance ; there was nothing left for me to do, no 
escape, save by mounting to the head of the form by 
means of studious exertion, and passing out with the 
least possible delay to a higher form. I lost no time 
in doing this, cleared the lot above me by an intellectual 
bound that bewildered my master, delighted Arnold, 
and at the end of the half I was off upwards. 

In a very short time I reached Bonamy Price's form 
The Twenty ; and then at last I knew what education 
meant, and really liked his training, but not always his 
punishments, which consisted in writing out for him 
such innumerable lines that no time was left for cricket 
or football, even when we scribbled with two, some- 
times three pens in our fingers, risking detection of the 
repetition, but disguising the feat of penmanship by 
touching each line up with fancy initial and terminal 
words or letters. How well I remember one Christmas 
half ! On the very last day, Livy was our author, Price 
suddenly woke up to the fact that we had already done 
with him the very book we were on. He gave an alarmed 
and angry start, and turning to Lushington, the head 
of the form, half screamed, " How's this ? Tell me this 
moment, Lushington, we did this book last half, eh ? " 
There was no denying it. " Write it out write it out, 
all of you, before you go home ! " We expected to go home, 
and by coach too, the next day but one. Oh ! how I 
wrote (double pens too risky) all the next night and all 


the next day, inked up to the elbows, and sleepy beyond 
description ; but the task was achieved and we were 
liberated. In after-life my intimacy with Bonamy Price 
was renewed in my own house and in visits to him and his 
wife at Oxford, so I again sat at the feet of my Gamaliel, 
imbibing from him the truths of Political Economy. 
He enjoyed trying one's capacity for definitions. 
Often have I tested men who have made their mark 
in the financial world, among them a Director of the 
Bank of England, with one of his questions. This was, 
" What is a banker ? " I never got the right answer. 
Price's answer, a neat and correct one, was, " He is a 
dealer in debts." Id eat, he borrows and he lends, he 
-is a debtor and a creditor, and thus he fills his coffers. I 
made no long stay in Price's form, but passed on to study 
the writings of St. John the Evangelist, under Dr. Lee, 
afterwards Head Master of King Edward's School, 
Birmingham. Thence I was moved up to the sixth, but 
never had the benefit of Arnold's personal instruction. 

For three years I had, each winter season, severe attacks 
of inflammation of the lungs, recovery from which was 
a miracle. The treatment seemed cruel and hazardous 
blisters between my shoulders and on the chest, with 
leeches filling up the intervals. The last attack promised 
to be fatal. It seemed to be beyond the skill of the 
school doctor. He relieved his anxiety and appre- 
hension, however, at his bedside examination by jerking 
out, " It be damned ! it be damned ! "and by sending up 
a fresh supply of the old-fashioned cylindrical phials 
of medicine with paper bands, parson-like, fluttering 
from their necks. The " sick-room " was comfortless, 
more so than the infirmary of a London workhouse. 
In it I first made acquaintance with the sight of death in 


the person of a schoolfellow, a Welsh boy somewhat 
older than myself. He was, poor fellow ! dull, backward, 
and timid, and we had a belief that, little as we cared for 
him as a companion, he was less thought of and cared 
for in his native hills. Though it was evident for some 
days that he was dying, no one from home came near 
him. At length his father arrived, on the very day of 
his death, but it was then all over. I saw him come can 
see him now : a short, sturdy man in blue coat with 
bright brass buttons. He and I went together as mourners 
to the funeral in a burial-ground or small cemetery 
in a field near the house. It must be all built round now. 

I was quite the smallest boy in the school when I 
entered myself by walking into the third form so 
small that no one bullied me, and I went by the endearing 
nickname (" black " we called it) of the " little 'un." 
I was so innocent that I actually offered my services 
as a fag at cricket to a delightful prepostor, one Hippisley, 
and being placed as " stop " behind the wicket, imagined 
I was taking part in the game, though of course not 
permitted to bowl or handle a bat. As I was always 
retained by Hippisley, for whose prowess and muscles 
I had the highest admiration, I passed the first quarter, 
Easter to Midsummer, very cheerily. In the Master's 
House, too, where I boarded, was a gigantic, broad- 
shouldered fellow, Curwen, of Windermere, who was 
leaving at the end of the term. He delighted in pro- 
tecting me and carrying me about on the top of his head. 

The end of my " first half " at Rugby came unex- 
pectedly. The dreadful cholera morbus had been slowly 
advancing from the north down the Midlands, and so it 
came about that, one sultry afternoon, as I was sweating 
bareheade4 .at Hippisley's " pitch," Dr. Lee marched 


into the middle of the school close, and in his loudest 
voice cried out, " Boys, the cholera is at Bilton ; you are 
to get home as quickly as you can." In five minutes the 
playground was a desert, and a rush made for the different 
houses. What chance had the " little 'un " of getting 
away the next morning with 300 competitors for places 
on the coaches running on the Holyhead road through 
Dunchurch ? However, our travelling money was given 
to us over night, and I felt the necessity of losing no 
chance of making my way at dawn to Dunchurch. I 
was up betimes, packed my carpet bag, and contrived 
to force my small person into a brake which put me 
down at the door of the Green Man coaching inn, within 
sight of the Dun Cow posting house at Dunchurch. 
Coach after coach came up, but each successive one was 
boarded and loaded by my stronger fellows. I began 
to despair. I had contrived to lose or had been looted 
of most or all of my money except the coach fare, when, 
as I was standing alone in the dusty turnpike road, the 
Liverpool day mail dashed like a flashing dragon-fly out 
of the dark avenue of lovely Scotch firs on the Coventry 
road. An imperious blast on the horn brought out the 
change of shining horses from under the yard archway ; 
four were out with panting flanks and four took their 
place by sleight-of-hand. " Here," said I in supplicating 
tones, " take me ! " " Where to ? " said a smart fellow 
in a scarlet coat with a cockade in his hat, the like of 
which I had never set eyes on before, and of whose 
duties and calling in this life I was profoundly ignorant. 
" London ! London ! " I shouted. Before the words were 
well out of my mouth, the wheels were moving. I heard 
the order from the box " Let them go," and found myself, 
bag and all, jerked into a vacant place on the floor of 


the front seat behind the driver. The guard, the good 
creature with the cockade, leant from the back, over 
the luggage, and made my bag safe under a strap that 
went over the roof. A sailor in a mate's coat and straw 
hat bid me hold on or I should go over the gunwale ; 
and we tore along Telford's magnificent road as though 
there was a prairie fire behind us. One sharp twang 
behind from the horn of his Majesty's alert servant in 
scarlet cleared all moving obstacles from our way 
as if a Maxim had been fired down the road. Women 
rushed out and snapped up the children dotting the 
king's highway, slapped them and set them down again ; 
disappointed turnpike men (for the mail paid no toll) 
shut their gates behind us with a scowl ; and I felt that 
I was entering on real life at twelve years of age, but 
excessively hungry. I had eaten nothing since six in 
the morning, and it was now high noon. As we changed 
at Stony Stratford a girl brought out a small tray with 
two or three large wine-glasses on it and a small jug. 
She stood by the front wheel on my side of the mail ; 
in a second the guard was there, and filling one glass 
with the strongest, brightest, and most comfortable ale 
I ever tasted, passed it up to me, saying, " There, my 
poppet, toss that off." The maid had given the coachman 
his modicum with a smile as he sat on the box during 
the change, and away we rattled. Dunstable, famous 
then for straw hats, bonnets, and roasted larks, furnished 
a change at the Sugar Loaf, St. Albans at the Pea Hen, 
Barnet at the Green Man, and with many a shrill twang, 
and jingling splinter-bars, we pulled up at the Angel at 
Islington. Being a cockney, I was aware of the New Road, 
so getting down, I called a hackney coach and directed 
the driver to take me to my father's house in Harley 


Street. I was penniless and starving, having gone from 
morning to night sustained only by the glass of ale 
from the guard's private firkin at Stony Stratford. 
" What brings you here ? " said my father. " The 
cholera," I answered. My father dropped the last 
Waverley novel, jumped up from his chair, upsetting 
a candlestick and scattering the powder out of his hair. 
" O my boy, you are not in pain, I hope ? " " No," 
I said, " but very hungry and thirsty " ; and then I 
told him the story, laying much stress on the generosity 
of the guard, for his ale had made a grateful impression on 
my mind. This was shared by my father, for he said, 
" What did you give the man ? " " Nothing," I replied, 
" for my pocket was empty." " Do you think you would 
know him again if you saw him ? " was the next question. 
" Certainly," I replied ; " I don't think I can ever live 
to forget him." " Well, then," proceeded my father, 
thrusting his hand into his pocket and taking half a 
guinea from his purse, " do you go to-morrow to Islington 
and wait till you see him, and give him this with my 
best thanks for his kindness to you." However, I did not 
go the next day. I reasoned out that he would be away 
through Islington early on his down journey, and that 
the evening of the following day would be the time for 
renewing our acquaintance. So I walked along that 
dusty, dull boulevard, the New Road, and took up position 
on the kerb opposite the Angel, with my hand in my 
trousers pocket and the half-guinea inside my closed 
fist. We had come into London with a piebald leader 
on the off side in the traces, as serviceable a distinction 
for my purpose in the crowd of vehicles as the figure- 
head of a man-of-war in Portsmouth Harbour. Within 
half an hour I spied the piebald, was reassured by the 


horn, and saw my friend drop to the ground from his 
little seat. " Here," said I, pushing forward, *' my 
father sends you this with his thanks." I think he 
expected a shilling, for he opened his eyes very wide 
at the piece of gold, and exclaiming, " Your daddy's a 
cock," slipped off on his business without waiting a 

I always travelled fast for my holidays in Devonshire 
if not by day on the Telegraph, it was by night on 
the Quicksilver Mail, which ran to Devonport. The 
pace seemed to me faster by this mail than by the coach, 
but the night would give that impression, for the wayside 
objects seemed to fly past in the glare of the lamps. Of 
these the mail carried three in front, one of them on 
the splash-board. In dusty summer nights on Salisbury 
Plain the wayside and the road were all of one colour 
and one level ; there were no hedges or trees to mark 
the track ; it was only by the lights shining on the 
jumper bushes on the Plain that the route was safely 
kept. The eyesight of the horses was not to be trusted, 
for many of the best cattle were put in the mail on account 
of their breed, speed, and blindness. Once I found myself 
at night on the Great North Road on which an awkward 
bridge at Stamford had to be negotiated. I thought the 
driver seemed relieved when it was over, and he then 
remarked to me that it was not badly done, considering 
there was only one eye among them, and that was his 
own/ Umbrellas on a coach top were abominations, 
as bad as ladies' headgear in the theatre stalls. The only 
safe refuge was the box seat, which at night was really 
comfortable. There was the driver's apron over one's 
legs, and, by taking up the cushion and placing it between 
one's left side and the box rail, it was possible to sleep 


without fear of falling off. We were taught not to sit 
square, but turned a little towards the driver so as to 
leave his left arm quite free. This lesson was imparted 
to me on a cold night by a driver rubbing the knotted 
holly-crop of his whip under my frozen nose. 

They were wonderful men, those drivers, those on 
the mails especially so, when it was warm enough and 
dry enough for them to exhibit their royal uniforms. 
Every moving thing on the highway had to clear out 
of the road. The guard's one short blast sent every- 
one right and left the drovers rushed into the midst 
of their cattle to make a passage, the tremendous six- 
horse Pickford's wagons sheered on one side like apoca- 
lyptic monsters, the " po'-chaises " scurried deferentially 
to their proper side, and the turnpike gates flew open 
with a rattle. Then came the villages, with here 
and there a dim light in the sick-room upstairs, and 
the feeble light of the change-house, where with lanthorns 
and active strappers the four fresh horses stood awaiting 
us. The change appeared a piece of legerdemain ; the 
drivers frequently did not leave the box. A little man 
Davis, I think, by name who drove on the Quicksilver 
over the Plain, would jump down, seize the reins, and 
then literally run up the side of the coach and perch 
himself like a squirrel on the box. He it was who 
taught me how a light-weight could relieve his arms of 
some of the severe drag of a pulling and racing hard- 
mouthed team. This was by crossing one of his legs over 
the reins when they were doing time on good ground. 
The Manchester coaches in winter had very bad work 
to do in parts of the Holyhead road when the long frosts 
and subsequent thaws broke up the way over the chalky 
Dunstable Hills. One Boyce then drove the Independent 


Tally Ho ! On one occasion I was on the back seat of 
this coach with some luggage tied on the rail, the road 
was very rotten and full of holes, and, being behind time, 
Boyce drove so furiously over the downs that the seat 
broke off with the guard and myself on it, and I only 
just saved my neck by catching at the friendly hand of 
a passenger opposite. About my last interview with a 
mail driver was with Old Simpson, who drove, I think, the 
Lynn mail. I went down to the office in Cambridge at 
midnight, as I often did, to see the mail change, and 
give Simpson a cup of hot tea. The night was a terrible 
wintry one, and near Royston, in a stowstorm, the mail 
went over in a drift, and poor Simpson was smothered. 



MY father made many inquiries of me about Rugby, 
especially as to how the Sunday was spent and what 
special teaching we got in the Bible. To this I would 
reply, adding the tale of my sad and stationary position 
in the third form (from which I did not ascend before 
his death), and describing the extraordinary diligence 
and activity of my master with the cane. My father 
listened attentively, often chiming in with "Ah ! ah! yes ! 
just so ! " and, to my astonishment, gave me to know how 
much tenderer my master of the nineteenth century was 
than his of the eighteenth, explaining to me that at Mer- 
chant Taylors in cases of punishment the master grasped 
the pupil's fingers in one hand, as you would a bunch of 
asparagus, and holding the points upwards, beat the ends 
and the nails down with the writing master's rule in the 
other. He told me also that he was made to eat all that 
was put on his plate by a dreadful female carver, who, 
when his powers failed him, exclaimed, " Master Pell, 
I observe you chaw hard, sir." To avoid the consequences 
of this deficient voracity, he explained how he and his 
friend Master Charles Matthews, whose acquaintance 
I had made on the stage, engaged the services of a drover's 
dog from Smithfield Market, and slipped the surplus of 
their plates under the table into his expectant jaws, 
wiping the grease off their fingers on his curly coat. 



I saw more of the stage than most boys before I was 
thirteen years of age. Liston was my favourite and, 
I think, my father's too, but I went frequently also to 
the old Olympic Theatre in Wych Street. One fine 
morning during my holidays my father told me, after 
breakfast, that a very great actress would perform that 
evening for the first time at the Olympic. " Greater 
than Madame Vestris ? " I asked. " Far greater," 
he said, " and much more particular, for she requires a 
special stage door for her own use." He added that I 
should come with him and see the arrangements in 
progress. So off we went, and on arriving at the side wall 
of the theatre, sure enough found workmen busy over an 
enormous opening they had made and were fitting up with 
folding doors. The posters announced the first appearance 
on the English stage this evening of Mademoiselle Djeck 
with Madame Vestris. We took our tickets, and I 
passed the rest of the day in a fever of excitement. 

When evening came, we made our way to Wych 
Street early enough to secure good places. Oh ! the 
delicious, refreshing smell of healthy sawdust and 
fragrant orange-peel, dramatic odours, pervading alike 
Macbeth's castle and heath, Juliet's balcony, Desdemona's 
couch, and the Fairies' haunt in " Midsummer Night's 
Dream " ! How it stimulated expectations before 
the curtain went up and made the presence of favourite 
actors and enchanting actresses within, as Mr. Gladstone 
would say, a reasonable distance of time and space a 
certainty ! The play for the evening was " The Prince 
of Siam." The scene, so the bills said, was laid in Crim 
Tartary : with my imperfect knowledge of geography, 
I thought it quite natural that this should be associated 
with Siam ; when the curtain rose, I recognised in it a 



pictorial acquaintance to which I had already been 
introduced at Astley's Theatre in the dramas of " Maz- 
eppa " and " Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp." The 
dresses, too, of the warriors and Eastern potentates were 
old friends, likewise the armour, for the most part match- 
locks and scimitars preposterously curved. 

The first act disappointed me. The plot was unfolded 
by two loyal court officials, who explained that there was 
a rightful prince, young, gracious, bold, and beautiful, 
who, having fallen into the clutches of an usurper of evil 
disposition and appearance to match, was at that very 
time incarcerated in the upper storey of an impregnable 
round tower, that his retainers had been suborned or 
smothered, and that the prince, without bread, without 
water, and no ladders in the country, was wasting away 
in the stony, elevated solitude. But there was still one 
hope, not in the advance of an army, not in a fresh revolu- 
tion, but in the promised advent of a princess powerful 
and resolute enough to rescue the sovereign unaided. 

A whistle, and the scene changed, and before us was 
the solitary round stone tower with the mountains of 
Grim Tartary, a moon in the far distance, shining on one 
little window very high up in the tower. I understood at 
once that the prince was behind that window, and that 
even if he was unchained the jump would be fatal. The 
usurper seemed to have done the business effectually. 
No living creature was on the stage. The weird solitude, 
however, was made more weird by a stuffed wolf who 
crossed the stage without lifting his feet and made off 
in little jerks to his companions in the mountains. There 
was no beat of drum or shrill note of clarion ; the silence 
was complete. At this moment I observed a boy at a 
short distance on my left holding up a tumbler, and a 


woman with a basket of buns on her arm and a ginger- 
beer bottle in her hand on the point of setting the cork 
free to fill the tumbler. I felt that if that bottle went 
off with an effervescing explosion during this breathless 
hush and silence, the impending tragedy would pass at 
once into a farce. Luckily a spectator, sharing my 
feelings, snatched the tumbler from the boy and saved 
the play. At the same time, while my head was turned 
away, a clapping of hands and shouts brought it back 
towards the stage, and with the full and deafening 
accompaniment of the orchestra Mademoiselle Djeck 
made her debut on the stage, absolutely shameless though 
without a rag of clothing on her person, while I, for 
my part, being inexperienced, was filled with amaze- 
ment and some alarm. Not a soul seemed shocked ; on 
the contrary, the applause at this startling exhibition 
was redoubled, and the musical accompaniment swelled 
it in volume and discordance. Mademoiselle would have 
curtsied if she could, but there she failed, for she was 
an Elephant. The orchestra was silenced by command ; 
and the clamour of the audience subsided and passed 
away with a fault " Bravo ! " now and again from the 
gallery. Mademoiselle approached the tower, and 
commenced an examination of its structure with her 
trunk, her curiosity being excited no doubt by apples 
behind the pasteboard masonry. Then a faint cry was 
heard, and a lovely face peeped from the window. It 
was very charming, and produced an immediate and most 
enthusiastic effect on the house in the vehement clapping 
of hands, in which I joined and sprained my thumb. A 
gentleman in a shabby black frock coat and white tie 
sitting next us was so much affected that he was obliged 
to leave the house rather abruptly, taking with him my 


father's India silk pocket-handkerchief and tortoiseshell 
spectacles. Meanwhile the fascinating face had shrunk 
back out of sight in the cell, awaiting the encores which 
brought it once more in view. This was followed by a 
soliloquy ending with an appeal to Mademoiselle Djeck 
for help and liberty. The Djeck appeared to take in the 
situation, and at once did credit to her rehearsals. Ap- 
proaching the tower, she reared her fore legs against its 
tottering counterfeit, and lifting her trunk on high she 
all but touched the sill of the dungeon's window. The 
house was hushed, while in response to soft, low music, 
not a face, but this time a leg appeared, the foot (in a 
white satin shoe), the ankle, the knee, and then some 
inches beyond. The house pit, dress circle, boxes, lower 
and upper tiers, galleries were all welded into one har- 
monious chorus of rapture to which it was impossible to 
add at the appearance of the fellow-leg joining in the 
attempt to escape. With a mighty effort Mademoiselle 
Djeck lifted her person, so that the pair of lovely arms 
which followed the legs could encircle her trunk, and the 
charming lawful prince, complete now in personal par- 
ticulars, descended to the head, and then to the ears 
and back of Mademoiselle Djeck, and at last landed, 
erect and in tights, with a spring on the stage. 

Thus it was I first beheld Madame Vestris, to renew 
my acquaintance with her in a few years in the quiet 
company of another gentleman in a black coat and 
white tie who did not steal pocket-handkerchiefs. 
The circumstances attending the escape of the Prince 
of Siam were so impressive, startling, and brilliant 
that I can remember nothing more of the play nor 
anything else, except my father's indignation when he 
discovered in the hackney coach that his handkerchief 


and spectacles were gone. After this introduction, I 
made many visits to the Olympic, where the Olympic 
Revels and Olympic Devils were the stock pieces : Orpheus 
and Eurydice, Acis and Galatea, with Vestris in the 
infernal regions, and Braham singing " Oh ruddier than 
the cherry," and crushing Acis with a rock to the 
accompaniment of " Die, presumptuous Acis, die ! " 

Then came the swift succession of summer halves and 
winter halves at Rugby. The summer half was a terribly 
long one, broken only by a few days' holiday at Easter, 
when the speeches took place and the boys of the midland 
counties went home. London was considered out of 
distance, but a schoolfellow in our house had relations at 
Dunchurch, so I got an outing there. A great steeple- 
chase came off at that place which was won by 
Captain Beecher on Vivian. I have good reason to re- 
member it, for I had staked several weeks' pocket-money 
on the captain, encouraged thereto by a coloured plate I 
had seen of him winning easily in a St. Albans steeple- 
chase on a course remarkable for the persistent twisting 
of a brimful brook bordered by shockheaded willows in 
full foliage and its banks loaded with a perfect mob of 
spectators. He seemed to have the brook, the fields, 
the willows, all to himself, like an Alexander Selkirk, 
monarch of all he surveyed, all competitors being utterly 
distanced. So I backed him. 

Another incident fixes this race in my memory. 
Near where I stood in the winning-field was a group 
of very talkative and disputatious gentlemen round a 
brisk young man in a smart frock coat on a wonder- 
fully fine, impatient horse. He had nothing of the 
appearance of a jockey about him, but he seemed some- 
what mobbed by the bystanders. All at once he cried 



out in a clear, distinct, but not excited voice, " Well, then, 
I'll bet a hundred pounds I'll cover the ground fairly and 
be back in this field with the winning horse." Several 
said, " Done ! " Beecher was then two or more fields 
ahead, but off the frock coat went like the wind, and I 
soon lost sight of it. Next, after an interval of silence 
and expectation, I heard cries of " Beecher wins ! " to 
my inexpressible satisfaction ; and sure enough, I saw the 
light jacket coming steadily towards the last fence at the 
bottom of the slope on which I stood, and then, not a 
hundred yards behind him, was the frock-coated audacity 
tearing up to him. Now, just this side of the strong stake 
and bound fence inside the winning-field, and in full sight 
of the crowd, was a " pit " in other words, a pond for 
watering cattle. To this particular point the rider 
directed his horse, topped the hedge, and flounced into 
the water before Vivian had reached the winning-point. 
I never have seen such a splash, though it is possible a 
torpedo may send up such jets ; but out of it all at a 
canter came up the Marquis of Waterford, apparently 
delighted at the finish. So I saw him for the first and, 
as far as I can call to mind, the last time in my life. 

My schoolfellow Hughes has drawn so complete a 
picture of life at Rugby School that I have little or 
nothing to add to it. I was not at the School House, but, 
as I have said, where I boarded we lived hard, and were 
cruelly comfortless. At the latter weeks of the winter 
half I was generally laid up with acute and dangerous 
attacks of inflammation of the lungs, my kin being tainted 
with consumption. I think I owe my life to persistence in 
sleeping with my window open, though I was warned that 
it would kill me. After my last attack my mother was 
summoned to what was thought would be my deathbed 


at Rugby. But I would not die, and I was taken by her 
to Sir Henry Halford for his advice. He had been in the 
old days a Rugby boy himself, and used to say how he 
had seen the body of Sir Theodosius Boughton exhumed 
in Rugby churchyard for an inquest on the suspicion that 
he had been poisoned. He described the sight and hor- 
ribly offensive smell. Mr. Donovan, the prisoner, was 
hanged, after a trial wherein great stress was laid on his 
having been constantly occupied with an encyclopaedia 
or pharmacopoeia in the library at Lawford, hi one 
volume of which a leaf was turned down at the word 
" Laurel- water." The mansion itself was gone when 
I was at school, but the sleepy Avon ran close to 
its site, and there was a tradition that on certain 
moonlight nights Sir Theodosius rose from below the 
surface in a carriage with a pair of black horses. I 
know the spot, and, as I dash by in the North- Western 
express, I invariably find my eyes straining them- 
selves in that direction. Respirators had just come 
into fashion for weak lungs, and my mother asked 
Sir Henry whether I had better wear one. " No," he 
said ; " if the boy's life is only to be saved by wearing 
such a thing, it is not worth saving at all." He pre- 
scribed no medicine (I had been drenched with it). I 
was to eat what I liked, drink tea made from hops, have 
some new milk the first thing hi bed in the morning with 
a teaspoonful of old rum in it, and go to sleep again, port 
wine with my early dinner, and to hold a handkerchief 
to my mouth for a minute when I first went out of doors 
in whiter. I had no further attack of congestion of the 
lungs for over sixty years. 

The habits and practices of the school were extremely 
loose^and irregular when I entered it. Smoking and 


drinking were general. I remember a song (in which I 
joined) commencing with 

I'm a Rugby scholar and of a Rugby class, 

And by the wrinkles on my face have tippled many a glass, 

and so on to other enormities. Some big boy would 
take me over to the Cock on the road to Dunchurch, 
and there, having spent our money on some abominable 
punch, we proceeded to a coaching inn at Dunchurch 
to await the arrival of the Manchester coaches. We 
had not long to wait before one drew up to change, 
often with three, if not four, Quakers in drab coats 
and broad-brimmed hats on the seat behind the box. 
At these inoffensive merchants I was instructed to gibe, 
and to salute them with loud cries of "Ah, Cotton ! Ah, 
Cotton ! " They were as impassive and motionless as 
wax figures, which was very exasperating to a young 
gentleman whose father's income came from rents of 
land, who was a county magistrate, and so on. I could 
not understand it, nor why these white-coated, strong 
men did not cower under my sarcasms, or retort 
savagely. I had not then heard much of Free Trade. 
Peel was still a Protectionist, and bread at a shilling a 
loaf had not affected my internal economy or interfered 
with my appetite. It was not very long, however, 
before my eyes were opened. Years after this, when 
I came to know Mr. John Bright, I told him I 
should not wonder if he had not been one of the coach 
passengers I had insulted. " Ah ! " he said, " very 
likely; but now the tables are turned, and I may say 
to you, ' Ah, land ! Ah, land ! ' " This was in 1869. 

But to return to Rugby. Some time, about 1833 or 
1834, house libraries were formed in the different masters' 


houses, and Boz was coming into repute. " Sketches 
by Boz " was added to our library. This and " Bell's 
Life in London " were great favourites with me. In 
a short time the fame of a story by Boz reached 
Rugby, and I heard people talking of " Pickwick," 
which was then coming out in monthly numbers. I 
remember the first time I set eyes on it was against 
a small pane of glass in a bookseller's window in the 
Strand. I took a good look at it. It had illustrations 
on the outside of a green paper cover. The price was, 
just then, beyond my means, and I saw no more than 
the outside of the cover. There was a boy, however, 
in " our house," son of one of the sitting magistrates 
in London, to whom his father, as good fortune would 
have it, sent the current numbers of " The Pickwick 
Papers " fresh from the press. This was treasure- 
trove in which we resolved that all should be partners. 
There was a two-horse coach, the Pig and Whistle, which 
plied between Rugby and Daventry, through Dunchurch, 
bringing on to their destination passengers for Rugby, 
who had come north by the four-horse coaches on the 
Holyhead Road, and it conveyed parcels as well. The 
day on which the new number of "Pickwick" would 
be on the road was ascertained, its arrival was watched, 
and on the precious print being handed to its owner, 
he was accompanied by an eager escort up the town 
and along the road to " our house," and so into 
the hall. There "Pickwick" was torn up into as 
many sheets as the number consisted of. The first 
page together with the illustration was handed, with 
just consideration, to its cockney owner. The other 
sheets were held in hand in strict custody. As soon 
as the first page had been read it was passed on to a 


senior boy, who commenced his study of it, while the 
second page was passed to the original proprietor ; and 
so in the course of twenty minutes quite a group of 
boys were all devouring " Pickwick " piecemeal, in 
deep silence, broken every now and then by bursts of 
laughter. I was small, and thus had my patience sorely 
tried in waiting my turn, which sometimes did not come 
till a night had passed away. At last, however, the 
precious sheet was dealt out to me, and it was thus I first 
read my " Pickwick." My attachment to Sam Weller was 
deep and enduring. It was derived a good deal from the 
critical observations I had myself had opportunities of 
making on the roads and in the inns I used on my journeys. 
Bits of Sam I had often come across : his hat, his gaiters, 
his inimitable striped sleeve waistcoat, his shiny hair and 
gay features, his impudence and his good temper, his wit 
and his proverbs ; but it was left to Boz to arrange all 
these distinctive characteristics complete in one indi- 
vidual. It does not seem to me possible for the present 
generation fully to appreciate the amusing peculiarities 
of this specimen of a class as extinct as the dodo. Who 
in these days ever even sees a " boots " in the flesh ? He 
never awaits you to be tipped, though a few years ago 
entries in hotel bills referred to his existence, where he 
accompanied the waiter and chambermaid among specific 
items of charge. Now he disappears entirely under the 
heading " attendance." 

I well remember with what regret I finished the last lines 
of that^immortal story, and the cruel disappointment it 
was to me to find only brief and unsatisfying mention 
ofJSam in " Master Humphrey's Clock " and absolute 
silence about him in " The Old Curiosity Shop." He 
was absent, too, in the story of " Oliver Twist," which 


I read at Rugby as it came out in Bentley's Miscdlany^ 
though there was some compensation to be found in 
Cruikshank's illustrations, and in the pomposity of Bumble 
and the local authorities, as well as in the alluring artifices 
of Charley Dawkins and the Artful Dodger. Rose Maylie 
I abominated, and I flew to Sophia Western, as drawn by 
Fielding, to clear the other maudlin nymph from my mind. 
The sameness and tameness of the country about Rugby 
was as trying and distressing to me as it was to Dr. 
Arnold. The flora was a miserable one, though I must 
add I first met with the golden glories of the iris on the 
banks of the sluggish Avon, and there too I was delighted 
with my first sight of the flowering rush. The bathing 
was limited to certain spots : " Swifts," where the Swift 
joined the Avon and deepened its stream, for the sixth 
form ; " Sleaths," a shallower water, for the lower school ; 
while various " Holes " were prescribed for the different 
houses. " Anstey's Hole " was famous for its depth, the 
mud at the bottom, and the tradition of a suicide. We 
were quick to detect a dislike to bathing in any new boy, 
and revelled with delight over the capture of the miserable 
creature as he came out from " calling over." I call to 
mind a most exciting seizure of a Liverpool boy whose 
aversion to cold water was constitutional. He was of 
a palish green complexion much marked with small- 
pox, and stood on unusually long feet. Though he was 
surrounded and captured with no difficulty, he made a 
most resolute resistance to our proposal to take him 
" down town " and across the meadows to the fateful 
pool. The shop windows in Rugby were primitive and 
protected on the outside by shutters hung on hinges and 
opening back against the outer wall, where they were 
kept back by iron catches. Forcing himself and the 

44 "RAGGING" IN 1834 

press-gang against these walls, he made desperate efforts 
to stop progress by clutching at the shutters as he was 
borne along. These, yielding to violence, came to, one 
after the other, with a slam and a flap against the windows, 
bringing the inhabitants in succession to then- doors with 
exclamations of pity and indignant cries of " Shame ! " 
All this added zest to the enterprise and excited us to 
quicker and more remorseless action. The town was 
soon cleared, and the meadows and stiles hurried over 
till the stream was reached. At the sight of the clear 
water and the darting minnows a paralytic submission 
succeeded resistance, and clothes were stripped off with 
very little loss of buttons. A deaf ear was turned to a 
supplication to be allowed to go hi by himself, in his 
trousers, from the shelving shore, and a positive refusal 
to take of his own free will a headlong plunge was the 
signal for compulsion. The frightened creature was 
seized by arms, legs, and neck, and with practised skill 
was thrown clear of the bank and bordering sedges. 
Limbs were extended into the gulf below, and, between 
the swing and the splash, he had one moment to utter, 
" Lord, receive my soul ! " What must have been the 
agony to cause such a cry ? 

The school years seemed to wear away very slowly. 
The half-years at Rugby were long and tiresome, while 
the intense yearning for the holidays and home seemed 
never to abate. The early part of the summer half- 
year was the most trying. There were no football 
matches, and cricket did not fairly begin before Easter. 
It was a most monotonous and uneventful period. Satur- 
days, however, generally brought some excitement, for 
the London and Birmingham Railway was in course of 
construction, and a vast army of navvies was employed 

From a picture by Smart 



at Kilsby Tunnel, at the heavy earthworks required 
for the approaches to it, and at the station. These 
men, under very little discipline, were many of them 
great drinkers, consequently quarrelsome and pugnacious. 
To make good play with the fists led to renown, and 
the market-place at Rugby was the scene of many a 
tremendous engagement, where love of fame as much as 
fury excited the combatants. We looked for " the fights " 
to come off during our Saturday half-holidays, and 
Rugby market-place was conveniently at hand as well as 
within bounds. The ring was formed by a mixed circle 
of spectators and partisans. When stripped, the navvies 
seemed very fleshy, like brewers' cart-horses in com- 
parison to the trained prize-fighters resembling racers 
in condition, whose battles in after-life I delighted to 
attend. Their blows fell with a thud, not a crack, but 
they fought fair. No hitting below the waistband, 
no kicking, no gouging. In a very short time disfiguring 
purple blotches appeared, and ultimately swellings 
around the eyes and cut lips and bleeding noses, un- 
pleasant but fascinating to behold. Presently the sight 
became obscured. The half-blind man then hit wild, 
received a punch " in his wind " which doubled him 
up, and was carried off by his seconds, first to the 
parish pump, and then to restoratives at the public-house. 
I cannot remember that our enjoyment was ever disturbed 
by the school master or the constable. My feeling 
about the whole affair was that it was " nasty," and I 
felt that we boys carried out our differences in a neater 
and less offensive style, though the " punishment " 
was, I found to my cost, more severe. 

One of the real good sort about the school as well as 
our great benefactor was Matthew Bloxham, the antiquary. 


He seemed to live to do kind actions. Lawrence Sheriff's 
day was kept in the summer half as an anniversary of 
the founder of the school, and we had a whole holiday. 
" Old Mat," as we called him, delighted to take one 
or two carriages full of boys with post-horses (no " flies " 
in those days) to Warwick Castle, Guy's Cliff, and 
Kenilworth Castle, finishing up with a fine dinner and 
wine-glasses at Leamington. Then he was in his glory. 
We breakfasted at his brother Andrew's vicarage at 
Brownsover, and the mysteries of the tumulus and 
the Roman camp below were explained to us. He 
made a sonorous mouthful of the " Pretorian Gate," 
dwelling lovingly, ore rotundo, on the word " Pretorian," 
lingering and licking his lips, as it were, over the ample 
syllables. His brother Andrew put in a word, when he 
could, about some flower that was a bit less common 
than the very common and uninteresting flora round 
Rugby, which had no poetry in it. To be sure, there was 
lady's-smock, but no bachelor's-buttons, no snakeweed, 
no adder's-tongues or hart's-tongues, very little cuckoo- 
pint or lords-and-ladies, no mouse's-ear or devil's-bit 
or touch-me-not or heather or ling. After wandering 
hi the lovely Hertfordshire woods, the change was 
one of the saddest on my return to school. However, 
whatever his brother might be, Matthew was happy on 
the Watling Street without flowers, and when he had 
got hah* a dozen of us boys to examine his old coins. 
Years after leaving school, I renewed my acquaintance 
with him when sitting on a special jury in the Assize 
Court at Northampton, Maule presiding. The case was 
one of dispute as to encroachment on a public highway 
to wit, the Watling Street. Why the Roman engineers 
and their road were introduced into the case I never 


could divine, but so it was ; for the benefit of the legal 
profession, I assume. An antiquarian was thus indis- 
pensable, and the authority subpoenaed was my old 
friend. When he took his place in the witness-box he 
was tremulous with excitement and gratification. For 
once in his life he was to back his opinion on oath. He 
kissed the Testament with a smack and triumphantly 
offered himself up for examination. Soon, however, 
he somewhat irrelevantly stated that the Roman 
itineraries were by some held to indicate a sharp bend in 
the Watling Street, possibly at the very spot of the 
encroachment, that he himself inclined to this view ; but, 
he went on to say, an antiquarian more learned than 

himself held "Stop!" thundered Maule. "You 

need not tell the court what antiquaries more learned 
than yourself say on the subject. You are sufficiently 
learned for me, and a great deal too much so for the jury." 
The collapse was painful, and as the court immediately 
adjourned for luncheon I got out of my pew and ran 
after my old friend to shake him by the hand and soothe 
his offended dignity. For this, on the return of the 
judge, I was desired to stand up and was reproved for 
extremely improper conduct. In excuse I protested 
I could not help it, for Mr. Matthew Bloxham had been 
the kindest friend to me as a small boy at Rugby, and 
I had not seen him since I left school. Maule, with 
a twinkle in his eye but with a stern voice, said, " I am 
surprised, sir, that in your position you are so ignorant 
of your duty." 

Arnold introduced house libraries, Napier's " History 
of the Peninsula War," Buckland's Bridgewater 
Treatise, and the " Essays of Elia," and in the absence 
of Dickens I was content with these, more than content 


with Buckland, for Rugby was on the blue lias, and I 
could verify the illustrations in his treatise by handling 
the actual skeletons and shells in the lias limepits at 
Newbold and the brickyards on the way to Dunchurch. 
The navvies called the Plagiostomes, oysters, and the 
Gryphaeas, devil's toenails. 

Before I had been six months at Rugby my father 
died. The tailor came and clothed me in black, in cloth 
that smelt disagreeably after a shower. Black as a mole, 
I was hurried up to London on a coach top, and there 
formed the principal character in the funeral obsequies. 
The black formalities mutes on the doorstep, and the 
rest of it entirely suppressed any natural emotions, 
and I gazed with curious but dry eyes on the performances 
of the undertaker and his assistants. The cavalcade 
was a long one four black Hanoverians in the hearse, 
and several heavy black coaches and steeds to match 
behind it. At the right moment the undertaker-in- 
chief crowned me with a beaver stove-pipe hat draped 
with a yard of crape floating down my back, and pulling 
the hat off my forehead, I mounted several steps with 
assistance, and seated myself in the first coach. A 
military uncle immediately followed me, and the door 
was shut on us. Every one, I noticed, carried a white 
handkerchief, and occasionally applied it to their face. 
Neither my uncle nor I copied them. We went the 
whole length of London, one might say, from Paddington 
to Limehouse, along the New Road and City Road, 
through Whitechapel, at a foot's-pace ; it seemed hours 
before I heard the loud tolling of a bell and the dismal 
procession came to a halt. What took place inside 
the church has entirely passed out of my mind, but not 
so the sight of the family vault under the church with 


its tiers of coffins, white many of them, indicating that 
they contained the remains of those who had died 
under age all of consumption. Here, in the East End 
of London, my father had been born, and here he 
mastered his spelling and pot-hooks in a free that is, an 
endowed school, where was inscribed over the entrance 
this splendid inscription : " Come in and learn your 
duty to God and Man." Thence he proceeded to Mer- 
chant Taylors School, ending with a fellowship at St. 
John's College, Oxford. 

I was soon back again at Rugby, making my fifth 
journey along Telford's splendid Holyhead Road, and 
tolerably well acquainted with the ways of coachmen, 
guards, porters, hostlers, postboys, and " pikemen " 
by daylight. I had yet to learn how to behave myself 
at night on His Majesty's mail, and how to avoid some 
discomforts suffered by the inexperienced or the timid 
on these most royal vehicles. My experience came when 
I was thirteen years of age. My cousin had an invitation 
to the Musgraves at Eden Hall, and I was to go with him. 
It was in the summer holidays, and we left the Swan 
with Two Necks, Lad Lane, London, at night, outside 
the Liverpool Mail. All went well till we reached Fenny 
Stratford. There the box of a hind wheel got out of 
order, and we came to a stop at about half past one in the 
morning. The guard proceeded at once with post-horses 
and the mails. The passengers took to the kitchen in 
the inn, where I fell asleep with my face in the soot on 
the hob. At about seven o'clock, as there was no sign of 
repairs to the wheel, my cousin ordered a post-chaise, 
and we rattled away in fine style. There was nothing 
to obstruct the view between the front windows and 
the horses except a bar, to which the post-boy's great- 



coat was strapped. I had a delightful sight of that 
individual in a blue jacket, cords, boots, and a very 
furry white hat, bobbing up and down in the saddle, 
occasionally drawing his short knotted whip over the 
off horse's shoulders while he applied the spurs to the 
one he was riding. We lost no time changing chaise 
and horses at Dunchurch, Coventry, Lichfield, and 
elsewhere, till in the evening of the day after we had 
left London, while our chaise was being changed, I think 
at Congleton, I heard the blast of a horn and saw the 
Liverpool Mail rattling down the street. I shouted, 
yelled, and waved my little arms, and we were picked 
up and carried on to Liverpool. 

I had subsisted for the most part of the journey on 
buttered toast and tea, when I could get it. No buttered 
toast, since railroads came in, has ever been made fit to 
eat. The art is gone. The secret, I believe, was a simple 
one. The dry toast was kept in readiness ; when wanted, 
it was dipped for two seconds in a saucer of boiling water 
and put at once on a hot plate. Then the butter, which was 
also in readiness, melted in a saucepan on the hob by the 
fire, was taken off by a waiter, who dabbed it on the toast 
abundantly with his shaving-brush and immediately 
covered it down with a bright tin dish-cover, and so 
served it to the hungry and cold " coach outsides." 
On the whole, however, we could not complain of what 
the innkeepers put before the coach passengers for 
breakfast and dinner. The bread was nutritious and 
infinitely better than the white, sapless, thin slices cut 
nowadays off some scientifically prepared loaf. In 
the thirties, one got a " hunch " off a huge, bulging 
loaf, with the mark on its base of the bricks on which 
it was baked, and with the healthy smell of the wood- 


heated oven from which it had been drawn. The crust 
was neither tough nor rocky, but crisp and fragrant. The 
butter, before these days of technical instruction, separa- 
tors, and margarine, was invariably good, so was the 
Cheshire cheese. Given these three comestibles, and 
a minute or two to get at them, with a pull at the tankard, 
one could get along very well for three stages or so. The 
twenty minutes for dinner came in due course. No 
small porkpies, no sardines, no cold boiled eggs, no wing 
or leg of a small fowl, on a counter obstructed with 
biscuit tins and bath buns ; but in the place of these 
disappointing " refreshments," a solid round of cold, 
perhaps hot, boiled beef, English bred and fed, and 
unconscious of chilled chambers or the decks of an 
Atlantic cattle-ship. If there was soup, it was of a 
quality that stuck to your ribs till you had crossed the 
coldest wold or the foggiest fen. Only think of doing 
Stainmore or Dartmoor or Salisbury Plain on Bovril 
or a concentrated lozenge in the first week of January, 
two hours before dawn ! With these excuses for 
food, life is nowadays sustained by the assistance 
of footwarmers, spirit-flasks, and fur coats. They 
would have been entirely insufficient and deadly, when 
we had nothing but a wisp of wheat straw between the 
soles of a damp shoe and the floor of the coach top, 
and nothing but West of England cloth to keep the 
wet out, no apron except on the box, and an arch- 
deacon's umbrella conducting a rivulet of rain between 
your coat collar and the nape of your neck. I can 
testify that the pittances of the modern refreshment 
dresser would not have met the necessities of coaching, 
and that with nothing better to fall back upon there 
must have been occasional loss of life. 


I have said that, having seen with the utmost delight 
and admiration Madame Vestris on the Olympic stage, 
I renewed my acquaintance under different surroundings. 
Charles Matthews (the Charles Matthews), my father's 
schoolfellow, had for a close friend the genial bachelor 
rector of a college living not far from Rugby. When the 
great comedian paid the rectory a visit, he remembered 
his old Merchant Taylors' schoolfellow, and begged 
that I might be invited to spend a night in his company. 
So the chariot and pair of clerical cattle fetched me 
from school. How it rolled about on its C-springs over 
the bad roads of the thirties ! How roomy it seemed, 
and how small I felt in it ! I arrived in the gloom of a 
damp November evening, thin and coughing. Never can 
I forget the glow of comfort that followed the butler's 
throwing open the front door. After the cold commons 
of Rugby, the warmth, the bright wax candles, the lamps, 
the thick carpets and curtains, and the joyous sounds of 
revelry within, quickened my pulse, and revived life 
within me. I marched into the drawing-room, and there 
was seized on by Charles Matthews and introduced to the 
rector. There was only one other in the room, a lady. 
I was not introduced to her, and when I found, as I soon 
did, that I was in the presence of Madame Vestris, I was 
surprised beyond measure ; she was so extremely unlike 
my stage favourite. I was quite sorry to have the 
earlier impressions dispelled, and I think something in 
my manner and countenance must have expressed dis- 
appointment. At dinner madame's dress took my fancy 
more than her features, and I am convinced I did not find 
favour hi her eyes. Matthews, generally disinclined to 
be gay and humorous, I believe, with men, delighted to 
make boys happy, and he did his best with me, repeating 


his old games, as he called them, with my father, who 
ought, he said, to have gone on the stage with him. How 
kind he was ! what faces he made ! and oh ! how good 
with it all was the port wine ! I helped to finish two 
bottles, possibly three. It did me an infinity of good. 
There was a great fire in my bedroom, and a famous 
meet of the Pytchley next morning in the village. 

The years passed slowly away. The King died. We 
were to have a Queen. Born in 1819, the Princess Vic- 
toria succeeded to the throne in 1837, to be crowned on 
June 28 in the next year. I had a schoolfellow whose 
home was in the hollow of Piccadilly, opposite the Green 
Park, on the route her Majesty would take to West- 
minster Abbey a small house with a balcony to the 
drawing-room floor. I had an invitation here to see the 
procession. The day was a very hot one, and I stood 
in the sun, with half a crown in my pocket, and, though 
hungry and thirsty, afraid to leave my post, an excellent 
one for seeing, till I fainted. I had, however, seen the 
dear Queen pass by. I can call nothing to mind of the 
procession, the soldiers, the bands, the exulting multi- 
tude nothing whatever but the slight figure and the face, 
the composed face, rather pale, of the little body in the 
open carriage. How that carriage was drawn along, 
whether by elephants or horses, was immaterial to me ; 
who was in the carriage, besides my Queen, is gone from 
my mind. The Duke of Wellington, the next person of 
consequence and fame in the realm, was there ; he must 
have been close to me, so was a chimney-sweep. In the 
presence of the Queen they were to me equally insignifi- 
cant. The dazzling presence of the Sovereignty of 
England effaced alike the conqueror and the chimney- 
sweep. Then I got quietly out of the house, found some 


food in a back street, and went into the Green Park with 
sixpence in my pocket. The next day I was to find my 
way to Exeter. As hundreds of others did on that hot 
summer night, I lay down to sleep on the grass in the 
park. I think I saw fireworks in the air, and the oppo- 
site windows of Piccadilly bright with candles, some 
stuck on the sash-bars with stalactites of grease hanging 
from them. I was parched with thirst, and saw with 
satisfaction a drab of a woman with a shutter in front of 
her supported like a tray against her body by two straps 
over her shoulders. At each corner of this makeshift 
tray was an inch or two of lighted candle, and on it were 
some small, very dirty wine-glasses. In the midst of these 
a jug. The woman, bawling, " Water, water, sixpence a 
glass who wants water ? " came near where I lay. 
Getting on my legs and fumbling for my last sixpence, 
I said, " I do." She filled a glass. I tossed it off. It 
was gin, perhaps turpentine. The day began to dawn. 
The roar of the town died down. Piccadilly was empty, 
and so was my pocket. 

Now, there was in those days a famous coach, the Exeter 
Telegraph, that did the journey of 171 miles in a day 
that is to say, if I remember aright, leaving Hatchett's, 
Piccadilly, at half-past four in the morning, and arriving 
at the New London inn, Exeter, at ten at night. In my 
boyhood, having relations in Devonshire, I often had to 
pass part of my holidays there, and to secure a place for 
me on the Telegraph it would have to be booked a fort- 
night before. I never knew a seat vacant. It was a 
poor chance indeed, but I thought that it was just possible 
that after all the racket, turmoil, and excitement of the 
Coronation day and night, some passenger might fail to 
turn up. The sparrows were chirping, the bright sun- 


light shone through the leaves like a tonic, and I came out 
through an opening into Piccadilly at about 4 o'clock. 
The road was ablaze and already warm with the risen 
sun pouring its rays right down the centre of the Great 
Western Road. I had not gone far on my way towards 
Bond Street before I saw the white hat of the driver on 
the horizon. I ran forward, and was at the coach office 
just as the splinter bars rattled from the leader's halting. 
Full in front, full inside, but, in God's mercy, one vacancy 
behind ! I was up in a second, followed by the guard 
with the way-bill from the office. In five minutes we 
had passed Hyde Park Corner. Oh, how happy and 
hungry I was ! Brentford, Hounslow, were left behind, 
and no questions at present asked. At Bagshot, how- 
ever, the guard, who had been looking over the way-bill, 
seemed at some loss, and as soon as the next change was 
over, asked me very civilly where I was going. " To 
Exeter," I replied. " Is your name Tompkins ? " he 
said. " No, certainly not." " Then you ain't on the way- 
bill. Are you booked ? There must be some mistake. 
I do not remember seeing you when we started." " No, 
certainly not," I admitted, " for I only got up into a 
spare place at Hatchett's. " " But your luggage ? " he 
said. " Oh ! I must tell you I have no luggage, and no 
money." " The deuce you haven't ! Do you expect 
the Telegraph can carry you for nothing ? " "I don't," 
I said, " expect anything of the sort ; but if you turn me 
off now, you will have carried me thus far for nothing. 
Now, I am all right if you will get me on to Exeter. You 
will find that Mr. Mann, of the New London Inn, knows 
me, and will pay all that is due. But if you don't find 
me some food on the way, I must drop off and beg. I 
have had nothing but a glass of gin or turpentine for 


some hours. Bread and cheese and beer is all I ask 
for." " I'll chance it," he said, and he paid for my dinner 
as well. I think, however, he was more easy when the 
landlord at Exeter, coming to the coach side with a lamp, 
and turning the light on my face exclaimed, " Hullo ! 
Master Pell, you here again ? But what a state your face 
and clothes are in ! " " Oh, yes," I said, " dreadful dusty ; 
but come and get me to bed at once. I owe the guard 
a lot ; please pay him my fare and give him half a sovereign 
as well. To-morrow I'll tell you all about the Queen 
going to be crowned, and I should like prawns and Devon- 
shire cream for breakfast." 

I spent some holidays with an uncle at Exmouth. He 
had been A.D.C. to General Fox in the great war, was 
an advanced Liberal, far ahead of my father, and re- 
garded as a dangerous man. Some thought him mad, 
for he was convinced in 1830 that the Corn Laws must 
be repealed, and had a lease of a farm drawn up with 
a provision that, in this event, the rent was to be re- 
adjusted to follow the consequent fall in the value of 
wheat. He always maintained that Grouchy betrayed 
Napoleon at Waterloo, and that had he not done so, 
Wellington would have lost the day. He was up and out 
on the Beacon Hill (" Bacon," he pronounced it) every 
morning before breakfast, wet or dry ; if the former, 
sheltered under a huge, green cotton umbrella. With 
his telescope under his arm he took up his position on 
the edge of the cliff or slope and examined the sands 
and low rocks just uncovered by the tide. Then, spying 
the cormorants, he would unbutton his coat, throw back 
the flaps, and in imitation of those rough birds, would 
catch as much of the gale or sun or fresh, wholesome 
sea air as came to him on his exposed chest, declaring 


that the habits of the birds ensured health and hardiness, 
and should be copied by those who desired the same 
advantages. He had served in the disastrous Walcheren 
expedition, and denounced the conduct of that campaign 
in violent terms, holding up the Russians to ridicule and 
scorn. Their love of loot he thought disgraceful, and 
he never tired of relating how he had seen a Russian 
officer dismount to rifle the dead and wounded of their 
watches, purses, and ornaments, and how, stuffing the 
plunder into the top of his jack-boots, he was, on a re- 
newed onslaught of the enemy, so weighted that he could 
not get into the saddle, and was captured and carried 
away prisoner. He had been, I think, A.D.C. to General 
Fox at Gibraltar, doing garrison duty there for a weary 
time. The monotony and exceeding dullness of the 
situation was trying to every one in the forts, till, as 
luck would have it, a discovery was made of casks of 
port wine buried in the sand on the neutral ground. 
Then all took to drinking to excess. No one was sober 
after mess, and the sure foundations of decay and disease 
were laid among his brother-officers, all of whom, he 
assured me, died within a few years. He owed his life 
to a splendid constitution and the regular practice, after 
leaving the table, of stripping to the skin and playing 
racquets till all the mischief in the liquor was sweated 
out of him. 

I had no companions at Exmouth and no books I much 
cared for, though Godwin's " Caleb Williams " excited 
my imagination and set me wondering how such things 
could be. In after-life I read the book again, and I 
imagine it influenced my opinions. Afterwards I read 
with avidity the conflicting authorities on the then 
pressing question of Free Trade, and soon came to resent 


legislative bars and barriers between the needful food 
and the hungry, and, though still a Tory, went off a 
sort of outcast from that party, a steadfast, unflinching 
Free Trader. 

But to return to Rugby. On reaching the fifth form 
I had, owing to dangerous mischief in the lungs, to leave 
school, and for a year I was with a private tutor in the 
Midlands in the midst of the " stockingers," or frame- 
work knitters, a most miserable, under-sized, under-paid, 
under-fed class, subject to the cruellest forms of " truck." 
They were, however, stirring, and considered dangerous ; 
the Chartists, too, were just coming into notice. In 
some of the rough and poor Leicestershire villages out- 
lying on the Forest, the sight of a stranger in decent 
broadcloth brought out a miserable, buzzing swarm of 
stockingers from their frames behind their long, cottage 
windows, to curse and vituperate while they pursued the 
retreating " aristocrat " with sticks, stones, and mud 
beyond the confines of the hive. I more than once had 
to run for it. In this and other ways I did not fail to 
become aware of their distress, poverty, and helplessness. 
The expressions applied to them portrayed their case. 
They were described as " Shapes " (i.e. light tail corn), 
" Breeches and bones," and so on. 

Amendment, however, was on its way. The Liver- 
pool & Manchester Railroad had been open some 
few years. The London & Birmingham was in course 
of construction ; and these were levelling influences. 
The great posting-houses with their ranges of stables 
were closing. Post-boys, post-horses, and post-chaises 
were not to be obtained ; the travelling carriage, compact, 
distinguished, and clever, disappeared from Long Acre ; 
there was nothing left for the fastidious in the^shires 


but to resort to the democratic trains or to remain at 
home. The resistance to railways had been very pro- 
nounced and sustained in Northamptonshire. One con- 
siderable proprietor announced in the midst of cheers 
at a public meeting that the first train that came through 
his property should pass over his head. An irreverent 
shoemaker hi the crowd shouted, " You'd be none the 
worse for it." The county town rose in the plenitude 
of its municipal and coaching power, and succeeded hi 
compelling Stephenson to keep five miles away, and to 
face all the difficulties, dangers, and horrible cost of 
cutting a road through quicksands and through the 
lias and Kilsby tunnel. A severe punishment, however, 
was to follow in the shape of the wretched passengers' 
accommodation afforded by the boarded shanty and 
dreary platform on the bleak, exposed bank at Blisworth 
station. For years the " opposition " did penance 
there at the hands of the London & North-Western 
Railway directors, while waiting there to be " picked 
up " by the stopping trams for the metropolis or for 
the Black Country. The narrow waiting-rooms were 
crowded with unsorted company. Local cattle-droving 
was then frequently undertaken on the roads by women, 
generally of singularly unprepossessing appearance, with 
weather-beaten features and unrefined language. They 
seemed more indifferent to the weather than the men, 
though ill-equipped for storms and rain. I remember 
one poor, audacious, damp creature, her print dress 
and woollen shawl as wet as a mop, finding her way 
through the first-class passengers to the blazing fire in 
their special room. As the steam rose from her^clothes, 
a well-known supercilious member of the Pytchley 
Hunt, going to the door, summoned the station-master 


to ask if he considered " that lady to be a first-class 
passenger." If he did, so be it ; but if he did not, he 
asked the favour of her being removed. The poor woman 
retired civilly enough, begging pardon for intruding. 

The droving to London was conducted in a different 
way. At ninety miles from Smithfield the salesman's 
drover rode of a Sunday afternoon into the great grazing- 
pastures to pick out the fat beasts already marked for 
his drove. When he had made up his drove hi the 
locality, he started leisurely down the lanes to the turn- 
pike road and so along it, staying night after night at 
accustomed houses to rest and fodder his beasts. Finally, 
they reached the old pandemoniums of Smithfield 
Market in the city of London, where, after being sold 
by salesmen, they were killed at the different slaughter- 
houses belonging to the butchers for whom they were 
bought. The cattle were of all qualities, from the best 
to the very worst. London was then, as now, the first 
market in the world for the disposal of the best and 
the worst articles, for there the full value of either de- 
scription could be made. To understand the scenes in 
Smithfield, Dicky Doyle's illustrations of " Mr. Pepys, 
his Diary " should be consulted. As an occasional 
visitor myself at the market, I find very little, if any, 
exaggeration in this delightful sketch. The Martyrs' 
Memorial now stands in testimony of human faith and 
endurance under torture, anticipating on the same spot 
the patience and suffering of thousands of God's creatures, 
the victims of brutal cruelty and indifference to animal 



As I was now eighteen years old and had been entered 
on the books of Trinity College, I had to pass a ridiculous 
examination by a fellow of the college. He was the 
rector of a parish in the Midlands, a charming com- 
panion full of anecdote, having been employed by the 
Government on the Continent in the secret service in 
years gone by. Quite recently he had undertaken some 
duties of the same nature during the Bristol riots, when 
that town was under the protection of the military. 
Watching from a window the cavalry patrolling the 
street, he observed that every time they came round, 
a rioter ran out of a narrow court and unhorsed a dragoon 
with a well-directed brickbat. This was repeated or 
attempted several times, when the officer in command 
placed a fine swordsman in the rear, who, at the next 
attempt, dashing up, took the man's head off and sent 
it rolling in the gutter.* 

Not very long after this I had my own experience 
of great riots. This was in Birmingham. I made a 
short stay in the town and saw the Bull-ring burnt. 
I fancy the Corn Laws and the People's Charter 
were at the root of the disturbance. The Tory party 
was the unpopular one with the mob. On one side 

* This story is vouched for by a friend whose father had often heard 
it from the accomplished swordsman who was the chief actor in it, and 
who, when pot- valorous, always described the unfortunate man's head 
as rolling down the gutter making faces at him. 


of the Bull-ring were the house and premises of a 
tea-dealer of that party. The open space or square 
was full of a seething, angry mass of people, when the 
young men, partners hi the business, with an air of 
bravado came out of a first-floor window on to a balcony, 
smoking cigars. Leaning over the balustrade, one of 
them threw the burning stump he was smoking among 
the people. There was a cry, " They have given us fire ; 
we will give it them back." A rush was made, the 
premises were raided, and in a few minutes they were 
in flames. This was followed without loss of time by 
setting fire to several other houses in the Bull-ring, the 
property of unpopular owners. As at Bristol, so at 
Birmingham the military were called out. Young 
Westley Richards, of the great gun-making firm at 
Birmingham, was my friend. He was asked what pro- 
tection was required for their works, and his reply was, 
"None." Though his politics were not those of the 
" low party," he told me he thought he could make 
arrangements which would afford sufficient protection. 
He took me to see them. He had taken a hint from 
Fieschi in his attempt to assassinate Louis Philippe, 
adopting his method, but with better success. The 
entrance to the Westley Richards works was up a narrow 
passage, at the end of which was a sash window on the 
first floor. The sashes had been removed, and in their 
place a frame inserted in which were ranged, tier upon 
tier like the comb in a beehive, innumerable gun-barrels 
nicely pointing down the passage. A placard invited 
the townsfolk to take a peep at this battery. The sight 
was enough, and the works were never molested. I 
slept during the riots in a public-house or small inn at 
Edgbaston, near the works of a very unpopular floor- 


cloth manufacturer. I think his name was Harris. 
He also declined the offer of military protection, assuring 
the authorities and the mob that he was quite equal to 
meeting any destructive attempts of the latter. In the 
process of his manufacture much scalding water was 
required. He attached flexible nozzles to the boilers, 
kept his fires well up, and was unmolested. 

On looking back, how disturbed those times appear, 
compared with the present ! The introduction to, and 
forerunner of, Reform was violence and outrage. Rebecca 
and her crew were destroying toll-gates in Wales. Captain 
Swing and his gang were burning hayricks round London, 
and I went out on evenings to a low hill in the fens to 
see the corn-stacks here and there lighted up, while 
with a wind the flames rushing along the high stubble, 
as on the prairie, unchecked by any hedges, broke in 
flares against other stacks in the open to their utter destruc- 
tion. These fires generally took place on Saturday nights 
after bad markets. At an agricultural dinner at Royston, 
where old Lord Hardwicke (Governor Eyre's defender, 
and Lord Lieutenant of the county) presided, rick- 
burning was much discussed, and Lord Hardwicke, a 
grand, hearty, outspoken old Tory, in responding to the 
toast of his health, informed the assembled farmers how 
concerned he was at this fearful destruction of property, 
and how it puzzled him to think who the incendiaries 
could be. Speaking very deliberately, " Some," he 
said, " suggested the labourers ; but I hardly think 
they are the offenders. I see no reason for that suggestion, 
and as I am quite sure the landlords are not, I wonder 
who in the world they can be." Some signs of nervous- 
ness among the guests were caused by this very pointed 
conjecture, and subsequent speakers, who no doubt 


had had this topic festering in the brains as a subject 
for orations, avoided any allusion to it. 

During my boyhood I saw a good deal of the Fen 
Country, as my father had property there, which passed 
to my mother on his death in 1832. I used to accom- 
pany them, as a child, in the annual visit which they 
paid to it. We drove all the way from near London, 
staying for a day or two with an aunt near Bedford, 
and always visiting the old abbey church at St. Albans, 
where the first bait was made. The old, weird pile of 
buildings made a lasting impression on me ; I regarded 
the interior as mysterious and monkish. It was the 
first historical building with which I became acquainted, 
and when the guide lighted a candle and took us down 
steps to the vault in which lay the bones of Humphrey, 
the good Duke of Gloucester, I was overcome with 
reverence and awe, much increased by his throwing 
with a mirror a strong light on the ashlar work at the 
head of the coffin, where a rude sketch of our Saviour 
on the Cross was cut. I could, as I have already said, 
on fine days just make out the long line of the roof of 
the abbey from a field twelve miles away on my father's 
place, and I was never tired of searching for it. Mounted 
in the branches of an old oak, I pictured in my mind 
the duke's vault that it covered. On the road we 
baited, too, at Dunstable. The Sugar Loaf, I think, 
was the inn where we always came away with a tin 
of cooked Dunstable larks. I was glad we did not 
pass the night there, for I had been told that if you 
did, and looked under the bed, you would probably find 
a corpse hi a coffin completing the first stage out of 
London on its road to the family vault down in the country, 
while the undertaker's men were carousing in the kitchen 


and the black long-tailed stallions munching oats in 
the stable. 

Passing through Godmanchester and St. Ives, and 
so to Earith, if the season was wet, the Fen 
Country at once became much in evidence. At this 
place the River Ouse is diverted from its eastward course 
to join the Cam by simple but important engineering 
works two great artificial channels which carry its 
waters in a direct line towards the Wash : one, the 
Old Bedford River, nearly on the level of the fen ; the 
other, a much more important work, the New Bedford 
River, elevated in an artificial aqueduct on a bank 
above the land. Between the two rivers or parallel 
cuts lay the wide expanse of the Washes, relieving 
the New Bedford River of excessive floods, which are 
discharged through sluices at Earith on to the Washes. 
The tide came up the new river at Earith. The high 
road had to cross the Washes, and when the floods were 
out, ferry boats offered their services, and the ford was 
indicated by high posts on either side marked with the 
depth in feet of water. On reaching the bridge over 
the New River, the boats were abandoned and succeeded 
by a very bad road, bordered by deep dykes, disfigured 
with shock-headed willows. There were no hedges, 
no trees, no grass fields all was black loose soil under 
the plough. The dress, the manners, the talk of the 
people were all new to me. Some had nets, some guns 
(" hand "-guns, they called them, to distinguish them from 
the long duck-guns, special duck artillery fired from 
the stem of the duck-boats). Here and there we would 
meet a man with his leaping-pole, shod at the bottom 
with a flat foot. Tucking his gun under one arm, with 
the other, taking a short run, he sent the end of the 



pole into the midst of the dyke, and, clinging to it, was 
carried over in an amazing leap. Some were in such 
boots as I had never seen but in picture-books long 
leather ones rolled down over the leg to the knee for 
dry land, and pulled up to the hips in the water. These 
men carried wooden scoops and " fly-tools " for their 
business in the dykes. Their complexions were dark, 
but they were well made, with neat feet and hands. 

After driving some six or seven miles through this 
strange country without a house, we came to some 
low hills up which the road went in an improved condition, 
passing through inhabited villages, in one of which we 
made our journey's end. This was the highland, a 
beautiful, fertile soil, easily worked and most fruitful ; 
but, excepting just round the villages, where there were 
some old enclosures, all the land was open and un- 
enclosed, though not, as in the south of England, with 
commons. We paid our visits to my father's principal 
tenant at the fine old Beristead House, and a court 
leet or court baron would then be held there by my 
father, who was lord of the manor, for the admission 
of copyhold tenants, the receipt of fines, and the adjust- 
ment of disputes about encroachment on the " ways " 
on which the commons' cattle grazed. Breaches of the 
customs of the manor were also brought under notice 
and stopped, and the appointment made of a very 
important officer of the manor, the " Finder." His 
services were constantly required, and he was for ever 
bringing up cunning donkeys, wandering cows, and 
loose colts to the fine brick enclosure, the manor pound, 
close to the walls and part of the curtilage of the Beri- 
stead. There they remained under lock and key till 
replevied on payment of the proper fee. I was fond of 


climbing up the red-brick walls and getting on the bold 
picturesque coping to look down at the captives. The 
Finder was not a young man, and pigs at " shacking "- 
time were occasionally his masters. They were very 
uneasy and restless when in durance, whereas the donkeys 
stood stock still in the sun, almost asleep, with the lower lip 
dropping as if they were well accustomed to their quarters 
and were certain of release, and the cows chewed the 
cud placidly till kicked by a cart colt. Then a general 
rumpus ensued in which the pigs took a leading part, 
getting entangled hi the legs of the rest of the community, 
and finally drawing up in battle array in a corner with 
their snouts " at the rest " outwards. 

If the pound was interesting to a boy, the village cage 
was more so, though in less frequent use ; when it was 
called into requisition all the circumstances attending 
it were more impressive and serious. It was a square, 
brick building, small, and arched over with brick at the 
top. The door was narrow but stout, adorned with 
auctioneers' and other posters. The soil it stood on 
was sandy. The key was in the keeping of the parish 
constable. Human nature adapts itself to its sur- 
roundings and is not slow to avail itself of advantageous 
opportunities. In an open field parish with much 
commonable land at hand, where very varied rights of 
ownership and occupancy prevailed, a parishioner inclined 
to live on his wits without any settled employment or 
inclination for hard work was likely to become a " village 
pest." Such was the case in our fen parish. " The 
pest " was born and reared in the village, where he grew 
up to man's estate and independence. Some said he 
was an idiot, some that he was insane, some that he 
was devilish cunning. He was short in stature and 


square, inexpressibly dirty in face and fingers. His 
hair was like tangled tow, and he was deeply pitted 
with the small-pox, the dirt lodging in the pock-marks 
being an additional disfigurement. His eyes were in a 
perpetual twinkle, except when they blazed with rage. 
His hands reminded one of the claws of a badger, and he 
used them as such. He was his own tailor, but his 
skill was confined to very primitive art, as his dress 
consisted of two garments only, a bifurcated skirt or 
kilt, being a reduction of a corn-sack ad absurdum, and 
a jerkin made out of a calf skin united to the skirt at the 
waist by some butchers' skewers. He was a free drinker, 
and when not bawling on " the street " was in all proba- 
bility engaged on some iniquity in the open field. When 
such was the case and he was discovered, the injured 
parishioners would hunt him back to the village and 
call out the constable. The usual preliminaries before 
Justices of the Peace were omitted, a sufficient crowd 
collected, and the delinquent was apprehended, not 
without much resistance and clamour. He was then 
forced into the cage and locked in. A few children 
loitered about the door, indicating that the cage had a 
tenant. It was in this peaceful rest after turmoil that 
I once had to pass the cage, and noticing the children's 
excitement, asked them what was going on. They ex- 
claimed, " He's been a-thumping the door and a-swearing, 
and says he's not a-going to be kept in any longer, and 
now you can hear him ' scratting ' like a rabbit." 
The children ran home in fear to their cottages, the news 
was spread, and a small circle of mothers and old folk 
soon collected to witness the escape. I stayed for one, 
among them. In the course of half an hour something 
like a rat appeared from under the foundations, and it 


was plain that the tunnel had been made. Two hands, 
or rather claws, were soon above ground, tearing away 
the earth for the head to follow. Loud cheers of en- 
couragement heralded this exhibition ; the soil began 
to heave, and out came the shoulders, divested of the 
calf -skin jerkin. There was a little hitch at the hips 
and some struggling, during which the timid returned to 
their cottage doors and the stoutest boy tore off for the 
constable. That representative of law and order had, 
however, gone off to milk his cow on the distant " way," 
and the village was at the mercy of ' the pest," who would 
soon be parading it in his bifurcated sack and threatening 
vengeance if some one did not bring him his jerkin. I 
believe the poor fellow ended his days after all in a 

At the time I was admitted at Trinity College, 
Cambridge, Wordsworth was master, and I entered on 
Peacock's " side," the undergraduates being marshalled 
in their regiments on " sides," under three chiefs of the 
college. There were no rooms vacant for me in the 
college, so I lodged out for the first four or five terms. 
It was soon clear to me that I might be as idle and unstudi- 
ous as I chose, and I availed myself of my freedom. 
There were few of my old Rugby companions at Trinity, 
and, as it was the Michaelmas term, there was no cricket 
to reunite those of us who belonged to other colleges. 
New associations and new acquaintances had to be formed. 
It was the time for practice on the river, and a sort of 
recruiting was going on among freshmen. Weighing 
only about ten stones, upright and active, I was speedily 
approached by George Denman and enlisted in a Trinity 
boat of which he was either stroke or coach. I was 
placed in the bow, and as I seemed likely to be serviceable, 


I was put into training. Now, the food put before the 
pensioners in Trinity for dinner and the way in which 
it was served were abominable. It was inferior in quality 
and spoilt in cooking. We had three-pronged steel 
forks to eat with ; before using them we passed the prongs 
through the table-cloth, and at once three black spots 
indicated the wounds on the cloth. For any soup we 
had to " size," or pay extra, the same for pudding. 
The inelegant bedmakers who waited at table generally 
announced the " sizings " to be " Julia " soup and 
custard pudding. The beer was " swipe." For all these 
blessings we had to stand up at the recital of a Latin 
grace from the high table. There sat the dons, noblemen, 
and fellow commoners, enjoying the comestibles of 
civilisation and of the upper orders. I broke away in a 
very short time from this fraud and appeased my hunger 
at an eating-house out of observation of the training 
spies. They reported, however, on my insubordination 
and on my inveterate habit of eating pastry, and this 
caused my removal from the boat, and so I was left to 
my own resources in the matter of exercise. 

Football was then unknown at Cambridge. Rugby was 
famous for the game, and when I left, it was considered 
that the school field had lost a rather distinguished player. 
I loved the rough game as much as, or more than, cricket, 
and missed its excitement and conflict sadly. It seemed 
there were other outcasts like myself, some too heavy 
to hunt or row, some too poor, some who, not having 
been at public schools, were fretting life away in " con- 
stitutionals." An inspiration reached me that there 
was here an opportunity for getting up football. It was 
said that such a proposal could not be entertained among 
men ; boys might hack each other's shins and cling like 


leopards to the necks of their opponents without offence, 
but not so University men. I had to go, therefore, into 
the highway and lanes, and there I could only find twelve 
willing to make the venture. Among them was a host in 
himself, Barstow, afterwards a sitting magistrate hi 
London. He must have weighed about twice what I 
did, but he undertook to be the captain of one side of six, 
and I of the other of seven, and soon we had our first 
" puntabout " on Parker's Piece, and in a month we had 
our goals up, with a Bohemian in charge of them and 
our coats, when we played. Then we began, objects of 
wonder and at first of contempt. In time curiosity, 
with the renown of Barstow's deportment, style of play, 
and language, attracted quite a little circle of onlookers. 
We played the Rugby game, of course, which I had some 
difficulty in teaching Barstow, and still more in keeping 
him to the rules of it when he was master of them. He 
was full of vigour and wit, sometimes rather broad, but 
we established football at Cambridge. 

In the year I took my degree the usual rivalry between 
Trinity and St. John's for the Senior Wrangler's place 
was as keen as ever. Our man was Cayley.* I forget 
the name of the Johnian. While the examination was 
going on in the Senate House a small crowd was frequently 
in attendance outside by the door, discussing the merits 
of the examined and waiting to get the latest intelligence 
of their work. I, among them, went for this purpose, 
and on a Johnian in our group saying, " I wonder how 

* Cayley was Senior Wrangler, and from 1863-1895 Sadlerian Pro- 
fessor of Mathematics. Barstow achieved the distinction of the 
" wooden spoon " in the same year. The story goes that he was 
asked in the examination paper to " graduate the steelyard " ; to which 
he replied, " Mr. Barstow cannot graduate the steelyard, but hopes 
that the examiners will graduate Mr. Barstow." 


our man is getting on," Barstow in a loud, contemptuous 
voice said he did not know, nor did he care, but he could 
tell him that " Cayley had finished his papers a quarter 
of an hour ago, and was now licking his lips for more." 
The second year of football brought a large accession 
to our numbers, and it was clear that it would become a 
University game. Rugby sent a fair quota, but our 
best Rugby men were in the University boat in training 
for the great race. Cross, brother to Lord Cross, was one, 
Prickett another, and, I think, Gough another. George 
Denman (afterwards Mr. Justice Denman), however, 
Senior Classic and head of the " poll," played with us. 
When some twenty-eight years had passed over our 
heads, I found myself in the House of Commons (just 
elected), wondering much at my unlooked-for elevation, 
where everything was so strange and still so impressive. 
I was seated below, but next to the gangway, and was 
examining the front bench opposite, on which were 
Gladstone, Foster, Lowe, and Ayrton, much as I would 
a cage of foreign animals at WombwelTs Menagerie, 
when, in the midst of this abstraction, a tall, manly 
figure stepped across the floor of the House, made one 
step up, and sitting down on the gangway by my side, 
extended an open hand across my knees. As I made 
no sign, the Hon. Member in a deep tone said, " I don't 
think you remember me." I regretted that I did not, and 
explained that I might be confused by the number of 
new faces around me. He said, pulling up his trousers 
on one leg, " Well, I have good cause to remember you," 
and, pointing to a scar on his shin, " I am George Denman, 
and you did this for me on Parker's Piece at football." 
It was a great pleasure to meet with him again, though, 
as before, engaged on opposite sides. Our last meeting 


was at one of the delightful gatherings of old graduates 
of Trinity in the hall of the college. At the banquet we 
sat next each other, grey-headed, but as lively and uncon- 
ventional as when we were undergraduates, devoid, thank 
God ! of pomposity, for no football player could be pompous, 
and we drank the loving cup together and crossed arms 
and hands over " Auld lang syne," then with a walk 
in the fellows' garden we parted, never to meet again. 

As my parentage entitled me to take an honorary 
degree, my residence at the University was only for a 
little over two years. They were two very happy 
but very idle years, and it was not until the last 
terms that I made many acquaintances, being contented 
with the society and confidence of a few friends. I had 
my own horse, though I did not hunt, but was fond of 
attending some of the races at Newmarket, specially 
matches. The course and the company and one or 
two of the trainers whom I knew had great attractions 
for me, and the rapid ride back in time to be marked 
in hall was exciting. 

Cottenham Common was then undrained, and there- 
fore sometimes quite under water in winter, affording 
splendid skating. Of this I, with my friends, took every 
advantage, driving or riding to Denny Abbey on the 
Ely Road, where floods nearly touched the old Roman 
highway, and skating away at once on to the world 
of ice. On one occasion, getting under the lee of a large 
haystack, the ice gave way and let me in. In summer 
this fen or common was covered with the finest milch 
cows, and produced a cheese similar to but richer than 
Stilton, and in autumn a speciality, " single Cottenham," 
with the flavour and consistency of Camembert. 

Prize-fighting was then at its zenith, and had great 


attractions for me. To the Castle in Holborn, Tom 
Spring's tavern, I often paid a visit. He was a quiet, 
well-spoken, civil man, his house was well conducted, 
and no rows or sprees were allowed. Many, if not most, 
of the famous fights in my time came off at Six Mile 
Bottom or elsewhere near Newmarket. My closest 
friend had a brother in the Guards ; their drag came 
down from London to the great events, and, picking us 
two young fellows up, took us on to the ground where 
the ring was pitched. It was thus I saw the matches 
come off between Johnny Broome and Bungaree, Ben 
Gaunt and Bendigo, but sometimes I rode to the scene 
of action. On one occasion, I forget which, there was 
delay in one of the men appearing, and we were appre- 
hensive of some magisterial action having been taken. 
At last, however, a racehorse van with four horses and 
postilions galloped up with Lord Queensberry and the 
pugilist inside. In a minute or two the antagonists 
were stripped and inside the ropes, with their seconds 
at the corners. The fight was a fair and manly one, 
nothing whatever disgusting about it (as with the 
navvies at Rugby). Before long " the sponge was 
thrown up," and so were the pigeons with the intelligence 
under their wings. The day was a very bright and a 
very hot one, and I watched the splendid birds mount 
up and up and circle round and round, before they 
chose their course. Next to me on horseback was a 
well-made, tall man in black frock coat and white tie, 
evidently a parson. When I took my gaze off the birds 
I noticed he seemed to be still watching them, gazing, 
with a pale, upturned face, the sun shining full on it, 
and quite motionless. All at once, with no warning, 
no struggle, no cry, he fell out of his saddle like a bale 


of black baize on the hard heath, dead before he reached 
the ground. This was the last prize-fight I attended, 
and in the course of a few years they were degraded by 
" fouls and squares," and very properly entirely sup- 
pressed. We have got the revolver and arsenic in 
their places, to say nothing of garrotting and Hooliganism. 
There was one, and I think only one, incident in my 
college days sufficiently exciting and of such public 
interest as to be entitled to record. No contemporaries 
can I find now who can call it to mind. I have good 
reason not to forget it, for I hazarded my neck within 
measurable distance of the gallows. It came about in 
this way. Anderson, a fugitive slave from the United 
States, had made good his escape to England ; by uni- 
versal consent and tradition he so acquired freedom, 
and his owner became deprived of any title to his person. 
He had ceased to be a chattel the moment he stepped 
on our free soil. There were, however, in this case, 
some extraordinary and unheard-of legal complications, 
under which a claim for his surrender was advanced, 
and with such force and pretence of reason and argu- 
ment that the case was relegated to one of our courts 
for decision. Matters, therefore, stood in this way : 
a trial was to take place, and the result might be that 
Anderson, who was now a free man in England, would 
have to be landed on the other side of the Atlantic 
a slave. This seemed a transformation inconceivably 
cruel and monstrous, and one that at all hazards should 
be prevented. While I was in a fury over the matter, 
one of my Trinity friends, with some foreign blood 
too in his veins, and of an excitable nature, came to me 
denouncing the law, and declaring that Anderson's 
return to the United States by any order of our Courts 


must be prevented. He had, it seemed, talked the 
matter over with one or two others, but wanted to enlist 
about twenty desperadoes in his enterprise, which was 
this : first to put down five pounds each ; then if the 
decision of the courts, from which we anticipated no appeal, 
was adverse and Anderson must be given up, we were 
at once to take steps for his rescue. This was to be 
effected or attempted on his transfer to the vessel con- 
veying Him back to America and slavery, either from 
the boat between the shore and the ship, or, if the prisoner 
got on board, from the ship itself. We felt quite certain 
of general sympathy, that public feeling would go with 
us, and we in no way dreaded the result of a criminal 
prosecution. As good fortune, however, would have it, 
the courts decided that Anderson was free, and that 
there was no legal obligation for his surrender. 

The life was a very joyous one at Cambridge, but I 
rather avoided some of the accustomed habits of the 
place, specially " wines" that is, a conviviality after 
dinner in hall, in friends' rooms (dessert with port and 
sherry, followed by coffee and anchovy toast). There 
was much singing and giving of toasts and " sentiments," 
but unless Charles Kingsley was among us, I thought 
it dull. He used to take his departure suddenly and 
early, and then one would see him out of Magdalene 
windows sculling with bare arms and with all his might 
down the river. He was at Magdalene College ; but as 
the pensioners there had the liberty of asking a friend 
to dine in hall with them, and I had several friends 
there, we used occasionally to meet. I do not think 
any of us quite understood him. He had ways of his 
own, we thought, extravagant and visionary. 

In the year that I entered Trinity one of the proctors 


(Smith of Caius) rendered himself very unpopular from 
his diligence and severity. He was feared and disliked. 
He was attended in his patrols by a wonderfully active 
little " bulldog," nimble and long-winded as a hare. 
He chased a little friend of mine twice or three times 
round Rose Crescent, Market Place, and Trinity Street, 
when, on the very point of making his capture, he slipped 
and broke his leg, poor fellow ! His master had become 
so very unpopular and disagreeable that it was decided 
he must be punished by a dip in the river. Mr. Smith, 
however, was on his guard, and frustrated the attempt 
by retreating to his college stronghold, the outer gate 
of which was promptly closed by the porter. The 
Trinity men by this time had got together in the street, 
and using a builder's plank as a battering-ram, smashed 
the door, only to find a strong chain stretched across the 
doorway inside, under which the assaulters would have 
to stoop hi entering. As on the threshold we saw a 
Caius man with poker uplifted on guard, we all hesitated. 
Meanwhile the Trinity dons had been sent for Peacock, 
Sedgwick, and Whewell. On their coming up, a towns- 
man ventured the attempt of thrusting Whewell aside, 
whereupon that wondrous example of stature and 
wisdom took the rapscallion by the coat-collar into 
an angle of the church opposite and pummelled him 
unmercifully a warning to us undergraduates that 
we had better take ourselves off, which we did. Mr. 
Smith had so impressed me by the exercise of his Uni- 
versity authority, that long afterwards, on meeting 
him unexpectedly hi Regent Street in the evening, 
I bolted for a moment down a convenient passage, and 
could not divest myself of a feeling of caution in re- 
turning to the street. 


Billiards were prohibited in the town, and the proctors 
constantly made raids on the rooms. The best tables were 
kept by one Martin, in Bridge Street, and were conse- 
quently much frequented by undergraduates and raided 
by proctors. Martin had been a scene painter, and 
made use of his art and skill in deceptively decorating the 
walls of his rooms : a fireplace here, a house door there, 
a window looking on a lake there, a bower, a pulpit, 
a grave, a throne. Some were painted on canvas over 
the entrance to a passage, some on a loose flap covering 
a staircase. On the alarm being given, we jumped at the 
canvas or dived down under the flap, and left no trace 
of our presence. It was legal, however, to play billiards 
at Chesterton, and in the pleasant rooms of the Roebuck 
inn there, with the river at the bottom of the garden 
and the common beyond, I was instructed in the game. 
Before I took my degree, however, the University 
granted licences for tables in the town. 

The years then seemed to linger in their happiness 
and want of care. The summers seemed always sunny 
and hot, the winters bright and frosty. Flowers and 
spring came together as the poets sing of them. As, at 
dawn on the outside of the mail, we drew nigh to Cam- 
bridge, the nightingales made the Trumpington copses 
and roadside groves ring with their notes ; nor were 
they to be silenced by the guard's horn or the lively 
rattle of the leaders' splinter-bars. No nightingales are 
now to be heard by the freshman or graduate in the 
Great Eastern Railway coaches. About the time I 
took my degree this astonishing line made its first essays, 
under the title of the Eastern Counties Railway. It 
became distinguished for its unpunctuality and short- 
comings. My first journey on it was from its terminus 

THE G.E.R. 79 

at Broxbourne to London. I reached Broxbourne by 
coach, expecting a speedy finish to the journey. We had 
not, however, gone more than a few miles on the line 
before we slowed down, then stood still. After waiting 
some time, I got out of the carriage, to find the engine 
a hundred yards ahead, detached and unable to raise 
steam enough to move along alone. Then the men 
in charge of it descended, and pulling up the wooden 
fencing, tried that for fuel ; but finding the palings of no 
service, and the sun being well up and the day mild, they 
sat with their legs over the rear of the tender, their faces 
towards the unfortunate passengers, and proceeded quietly 
to make a meal. I quite forget what happened next, but 
I have some idea that I walked on to London. An ode to 
Patience composed some years afterwards encouraged 
that virtue by instances of its ultimate reward, and 
among the consolations for waiting, the last line ran, 
" Even Eastern Counties trains, they come in at last." 
Accidents were frequent as well as delays on this 
remarkable line, and its engines at one time bore on 
a plate the ominous name of Slaughter as their con- 
structor. They were good enough to look at, but bad 
ones to go. It was alleged of them that they had the 
habit of " jumping " " bucking " without invariably 
coming down again in due position on the rails. When 
the enterprise was extended as far as Norwich, there 
was a grand celebration of the achievement, with a banquet 
at which the bishop of the diocese, Stanley, attended. 
I heard that the Duke of Cambridge, sitting next him, 
inquired of him the number of his children. The Bishop, 
mistaking children for clergy, replied, "About 300." 
" God bless me ! "his Royal Highness exclaimed, " worse 
than Solomon, my lord ! worse than Solomon ! " The 


contractors for the making of the railway were Messrs. 
Peto & Bett. Now, Mr. Peto was a Dissenter and his 
partner a sound Churchman. The Bishop, the father 
of Dean Stanley and an ardent whig, either in 
proposing or replying to a toast, inspired by liberal 
emotions, referred to the good conduct of the navvies, 
and connected it in some way with the nonconformity 
of their employer. After the cheering which followed 
on this episcopal commendation had died down, Mr. 
Bett, apologising for the interruption, asked leave 
to remind the Bishop and the company that he, Peto's 
partner and equally the employer of the men, happened 
to be a member of the Church of England. This modest 
observation only elicited a sort of murmuring purr. 

Many notables tried their hands as chairmen of the 
Great Eastern Company, among others Lord Salisbury, 
and George Hudson, the Railway Bang, but with no 
avail. Great hopes were entertained by the share- 
holders that Hudson would bring them round. He 
was a strong Protectionist, and I was taken to a dinner 
at King's Lynn to hear addresses from the leaders of 
that party. The whole of the little picturesque town 
was crowded, and the excitement was intense. Lord 
Granby, afterwards Duke of Rutland, was, I believe, 
in the chair ; right and left of him were Lord George 
Bentinck, Disraeli, Hudson, and, I rather think, Lord 
Berners and Sir Edward Dering. This was my first 
sight of Disraeli, whom I afterwards came to know so 
well, when he had abandoned Protection for tormenting 
Gladstone. He was then M.P. for. Shrewsbury. I thought 
his get-up very " fly be sky." * He told a story of his 

*Fly- by-sky, or as above, according to the English Dialect Dictionary, 
is " a giddy, thoughtless, flighty person, " etc. 


walking during election time in a Shropshire lane and being 
startled by a hideous face thrust through the stumps 
of the hedge bottom, the very personification of Free 
Trade. " Hullo ! " he shouted, " where are you going ? " 
to which, with hideous grin, the face replied, " Bock agin." 
So, he went on to state, was Free Trade. Lord George 
Bentinck, who, upon Sir R. Peel's change of front, had 
become the accepted and vigorous leader of the party, 
made a very impressive speech. Then came Hudson. 
Oh ! how unlike Bentinck in form, language, and 
manner, but extraordinarily energetic and very voluble ! 
As he proceeded seriatim with his assertions, he en- 
forced them by repeatedly digging his thumbs down 
on the table and shouting, " Them's the pints " 
(points). As he did this Lord Granby slapped his great 
broad back by way of applause and encouragement, 
and Lord George Bentinck looked as if he should like 
to put money on him. But it was all of no avail ; 
Free Trade appealed to the bellies of a hungry and ill- 
fed populace. The loaf was lid., green tea 13<s. a pound, 
sugar 6d. to Is. a pound. There was a duty, a heavy 
one, on light (windows), on walls (bricks), on wood, on 
wool, on locomotion (posting), on wheat-meal (grain) 
in fact, on all the necessaries of life indispensable to 
civilised existence. The nation was thus left to rely 
on home produce, the very growth of which was checked 
by a duty on drain-tiles, afterwards removed on condition 
that the clumsy article was plainly branded " Drain." 
The Irish famine of 1847 rent the veil of Protection in 
twain, and the ports of Great Britain, with the duties 
removed, were soon replete with the produce of the world. 
Something else, also unexpected and novel, came over 
the seas just at this time to mend the fortunes of land- 



owners and tenants, and to revive their drooping spirits. 
It smelt strongly and had the disadvantage of a foreign 
name, Guano (" gohanna," the field-folk called it, 
with a sneer and an oath). It soon, however, rhymed 
with " hosanna " in the village concerts, outlived ridicule, 
and made the earth bring forth by handfuls. It was, too, 
to become the handmaid to agricultural chemistry. 
The jeers about manuring a field out of your waistcoat 
pocket and harvesting it in your jacket pocket ceased. 
Parson Huxtable appeared on the scene, who vowed he 
could by the aid of science grow a prize turnip on a deal 
board. The stinging sulphuric acid tickled Hodge's 
nostrils and burnt his gaiters as he dissolved (" absolved," 
he called it) bones for the manure drill. When bones 
came too dear, the phosphatic nodules of extinct fishes, 
dug up first in Cambridgeshire, filled the gap. Super- 
phosphate of lime, like guano, increased the arable produce, 
and the scientific genius and studies of John Bennet Lawes, 
with his colleague Henry Gilbert, made Rothamsted the 
great instructional institution for all the farming world. 
I was much captivated by these new and interesting 
discoveries and developments in agriculture, and, having 
just enough capital left me by an uncle, I was spared 
the necessity of adopting a profession. In this way I 
missed the benefits of a regular course of training, and 
became a wanderer for awhile. 

With a fishing-rod and some flies and a knapsack on 
my back I took the Great Western train (the " Exeter 
Telegraph " was gone) for the West of England. 
The Whitehall Tunnel beyond Tauntonwas not open, 
and passengers were taken over the hill in coaches. 
More than once a rather short, smart, well-made guard 
with a fresh, almost baby face let me out of the 


carriage. It is strange that the features of this one 
servant of the company should have been fixed in my 
memory. The man was quiet and undemonstrative ; 
but beneath those fair features was lurking the will 
and wickedness of Manning, one of the cruellest 
murderers that ever came (with his wife) to the gibbet. 
She made black satin unwearable by being hanged in that 
fabric. At Tiverton Junction I left the railway and 
took to my legs, which carried me through rain and sun- 
shine right away to the Land's End. My first stop was 
Tiverton. The Headmaster of Blundell's School was a 
friend, and he gave me an introduction to tenants holding 
school farms on Dartmoor. Round Tiverton I knew 
the country well. A cousin owned a beautiful little 
estate, the whole of the parish a few miles off, with a 
real Devonshire village. The two lines of thatched 
cottages right and left, facing each other, had a strip of 
brilliant green common in front of their gardens, parted 
down the middle by a gravelly channel or way that 
was at once the parish road and a trout stream. On 
the green were the children, the geese, and the ducks ; 
against a cottage garden gate a pony with two huge 
panniers piled up with firewood ; by the trout stream 
a gipsy tin-ware cart, the owner shouting and carrying 
the glittering pots and kettles over his arm from house 
to house. My cousin had disfigured the place by building 
a modern brick-and-slate farmhouse with a bay window. 
All the rest was cobble and thatch, charming to view. 
Oh the pity of it, to think what the Welsh slate and 
cast-iron spouting has done to deform English homes, 
large and small alike ! 

I started away early on May 19, 1844, down the high 
road by Bickleigh, and reaching Exeter at a quarter 


to ten, got my breakfast at the New London Inn. I 
then went to the Cathedral service, and on again at one 
o'clock over Haldon Hill, with its magnificent prospect 
east and west, to Chudleigh by Haytor, and reached the 
Golden Lion, Ashburton, at half-past seven. I fared 
exceedingly well, as I caught some trout in the brooks, 
and had them cooked at a farmhouse. The dairy was 
flagged with irregular slab stones, over which a clear 
stream rippled away, cooling and cleaning. The farmer's 
wife, with naked feet, was getting the milk ready for 
scalding. This she did by putting the earthern pans 
containing it among the hot wood ashes and embers on 
the kitchen hearth. Soon the heat took effect, and the 
surface of rich milk was covered with a wrinkled yellow 
coat of thick cream, flavoured to perfection with a 
suspicion of wood smoke. This with some home-made 
bread and the broiled trout made a good meal. I slept 
at a farmhouse belonging to Blundell's School, without 
a tree near it, and with waste all round ; a small garden 
protected by a rough granite wall grew a few cabbage 
plants. Some melancholy hens paraded in front, which 
filled me with astonishment and wonder on finding they 
were web-footed. It turned out, however, that they 
had leather patches sewn on to their toes to prevent 
them scratching up the garden mould a clever ex- 
pedient I never came across again. 

At last I got to the extremity of my wanderings, and 
stood on a very wild day at the farthest point I could 
clamber to of Land's End, where I stopped like a watch 
run down, unable to go farther. After a while, when it 
began to get dusk, I wound myself up again and trudged 
back to Penzance. Here I found a little passage-boat 
advertised to sail for the Scilly Islands the next morning. 


I went aboard, and in a few hours reached St. Mary Town ; 
but as I had plenty of town behind me in England, I 
decided to avoid the repetition, and hearing that Sampson 
Island was inhabited, hired a boat and made for it. 
I found my Robinson Crusoe there in the shape of a small 
farmer in a low granite-built house, with a granite wall 
of the same height round it enclosing a small garden, the 
soil of which seemed also to be composed of granite 
powdered. I do not remember that there was another 
habitation on Sampson, but I found my Crusoe at home, 
talked farming and flowers with him, and proposed 
being his guest, if his commissariat could meet this 
additional call on it. He took me in, and explained the 
industries of the islands, agriculture and trading. As 
early as might be, potatoes were planted, helped on with 
the guano. As soon as the young crop was raised, 
it was shipped to Liverpool and marketed there at a 
high price. The ship then took on board a Lancashire 
cargo, and was despatched to the Mediterranean, where 
it was disposed of, and the vessel, freighted at once with 
Italian produce oil, dried fruits, and comestibles re- 
turned to an English port. Having discharged her 
Mediterranean cargo, she made her way promptly to the 
islands again, and loaded with the second crop of potatoes 
to be disposed of on the mainland. Thus, having com- 
pleted four voyages, she was laid up for the whiter, to 
renew her busy tramp the next year. 

My stay on Sampson Island was brought to an un- 
expected and disagreeable close before the week was 
out. My host came into my bedroom early to say 
I must leave. " Oh, dear ! " I said, " why ? Is my 
bed wanted ? " " Not at all ; but you must go, and 
to-day too, I am sorry to say." " I'll pay in advance, 


if that suits you better." " It would not help a bit," 
he said ; " you really must go, and leave the islands as 
well." " That is going too far," t l remonstrated. " Of 
course, you are master of this house, but not of all the 
islands." " Just so," he said, " but Mr. Augustus Smith 
is, and his orders are for you to go." The position and 
the whims of Mr. Augustus Smith were then explained. 
He was the lease-holder under the Duchy of Cornwall 
or the Crown of all the islands, and was in fact a Marquis 
of Carabas as pictured in " Puss in Boots." So I made 
my host easy by acquiescing ; and putting on my knap- 
sack, paid the very moderate reckoning, and made off. 


IT had been proposed that I should read for the Bar, and 
arrangements had been made for studying with a special 
pleader. Rooms had been taken for me in Great Russell 
Street, and a day fixed for my occupation of them. When, 
however, I went up to London, I was met by the landlord, 
who informed me that I must return, as he had taken 
in another tenant. I do not suppose I was very keen 
in the matter, and, as already said, I was independent 
of a profession. I liked the country far better than 
the town, and the open air suited my constitution better 
than the confinement, shade, and smoke of the street. 
So I took a farm in the Harrow Vale, twelve miles from 
London. The staple production of the district was 
hay for the London market, but there were about twelve 
acres of impervious clay under the plough, producing 
a modest yield of the finest wheat in the kingdom for 
flour. The sort was " Chidham White," in demand 
for biscuit making. A few acres of beans were also grown, 
the rest of the one arable field was in dead fallow. The 
ploughing was done by a wooden plough with wooden 
breast drawn by three horses at length. The seed was 
sown broadcast. Threshing was done by the flail. The 
dressing of the grain was much as it had been hi Saxon 
times. The gram, when threshed, was made up in a 



head on the barn floor. A sloping screen, or riddle, was 
placed alongside of it, which had a hopper at the top, 
into which the grain was shovelled in small quantities 
at a time ; as it ran down the screen, the small seeds were 
taken out and got rid of. I have omitted, however, 
to say that previously to this the grain had had the 
chaff blown away from it by falling in front of a draught 
of wind raised by four sacks nailed on four bars or arms 
fixed in a spindle or roller with a crank and handle at 
one end and revolving by hand action on a rough frame. 
When the chaff and the small seeds had thus been re- 
moved, the next operation was to "throw " the wheat. The 
wheat was put in a heap at the rear of the threshing- 
floor, and the thresher with a wide wooden barn-shovel 
threw it forward, with a careful turn of the wrist, in the 
air to the far end of the floor towards the open barn 
doors. The result of this treatment was that the heaviest 
and finest grain went the farthest distance, and the 
lighter and inferior gram, the tail, dropped at a shorter 
distance. With a light home-made birch broom the 
labourer separated the two qualities, collecting them 
from time to time into two heaps. Still, in both the 
heaps there remained " whiteheads " that is, grain in 
which the chaff adhered to the wheat and these had to 
be removed. This was done by " fanning." The 
thresher was provided with a large open tray of fine 
close basket-work, in shape something like a scallop-shell 
with a handle at each whig or side ; putting some grain 
in this, and resting the upturned edge or side of the 
fan against his body for a fulcrum, he kept tossing its 
contents up, dropping its opposite side or edge a little 
at the same time. By this action or trick he jerked the 
" whiteheads " to the far edge of the fan, over which 


he pushed them with the palm of his hand. It only 
remained now to measure up and put the grain into 
four-bushel sacks. The whole operation was a tedious 
and expensive one. I think the threshing alone cost 
five shillings a quarter of eight bushels, and probably 
the dressing-up eighteen-pence more. The machinery 
or implements employed might have been bought for 
forty or fifty shillings. The thresher made his own 
flail. In the absence of watches, time was kept and 
marked in a primitive way. A crack in the barn 
doors, when these were set back, admitted a beam of 
sunlight on the jamb ; across this, notches were cut 
with a knife at different distances. When the full ray 
reached one mark, it was luncheon time ; another illu- 
mination on a lower mark indicated dinner time. These 
marks are still to be seen on old barns in Berkshire. 

The hay was made in a more careful and studied 
fashion than nowadays. No machines rattled in the 
meadows, nor was mechanical assistance called in at 
the building of the rick. At first not even a hand-drag 
was in use. I remember the introduction of wooden 
ones, out of Buckinghamshire. They were considered 
wasteful, for the wide and long teeth allowed the finer 
blades of grass to slip through and be lost. Early, 
very early, in the morning, while the dew wetted the 
grass, the strong, enduring mower entered the field. He 
took a sup of ale from his wooden bottle, and then charmed 
the still, misty air with the music of the whetstone on 
his scythe. The patient team rested meanwhile, and 
gathered flesh and strength undisturbed against the 
day of the hay cart. No such rest now ; out of the 
monotonous cutter they are yoked into the horse-rake, 
out of the )iorse-rake into the cart shafts. Then, with 


their throats moistened and their scythes whetted, the 
leading men of the gang swept down with a swish the first 
swarths. The next followed, and so on in diagonal 
procession, two, three, four, in their white shirts, sleeves 
turned up, and straps buckled round their middles to hold 
their fustian breeches in position. Their ample calves 
swelled the home-made stockings, and the whole was 
supported in patriarchal, hobnail, laced boots. This 
powerful and somewhat solemn procession, with legs 
apart, was carried irresistibly forward till the edge was 
taken off the blade and a halt was called for whetting. 
Then up went the glittering blades in the air, a lock of 
grass was picked from the ground to wipe them ; back 
into the loins went the hand to withdraw the whetstone 
from the leather sheath. Then again the music of the 
scythe at the far end of the field announced the sad fall of 
buttercups, ox-eyed daisies, lady's-smocks, and meadow- 
grasses. Meanwhile, the sun rolled up on the horizon 
or over the wood, higher and higher, and the dazzling 
light and summer heat cleared away the moist dew. 
The " cut " became dry and harsh, the whetstones and 
the bottles came in more frequent request, and anxious 
glances were directed towards the gate or stile in the 
hedge. At last, but still due to time, the wife or the 
child appeared with basket and breakfast or " nunch," 
and all adjourned to the shade of the hedgerow. Very 
few words were spoken, but the clasp-knives came 
out of the pockets and were soon at work on cold 
bacon, bread, and onions. That over, the empty 
basket went back to the cottages, the short pipe and 
tobacco closed the meal. Then an hour's more work, 
and then before noon, during the hottest hours of 
the day, sleep and snores for two if not three hours, 


and then work, hard work again, well into the shades 
of evening. 

Before this, however, and while the mowers sleep, 
a troop of noisy, chattering haymakers with straw bonnets 
and aprons arrived in the field, and the making of the 
hay commenced with a thorough and complete breaking- 
up of the swarths. Each woman had her own rake 
and fork, heavier than those in use now (for the light 
steel American implements had not yet appeared, and, 
after all, the hand-rake was the tool that best served 
the purpose of making good hay). Hacking up with 
the hand-rake got the broken grass into windrows, between 
which the bared ground took the sun and dried up. 
Then two windrows or three were drawn by the rake 
into one, the " double windrow." These were pulled 
over once before putting into small grass cocks. Thus 
the hay kept its green colour. Exposure to the sun 
bleached it. The small cocks in time were put into 
larger ones, skilfully topped up and trimmed to resist 
a shower. Last of all, these were opened out into the 
" cart rows," the mowers were called off, the carts and 
boy drivers came on the scene, and the heavy work of 
pitching and loading began. A detachment of chattering 
and joking women with hand-rakes cleared up the ground 
in the rear of the carts, gathering literally every blade. 
So it went on while fine days favoured the work mowing 
in the early morning, carrying when the sun was well 
up, with unceasing, uncomplaining toil till the dew 
began to rise. The remuneration for overtime and 
work was beer " totted out " whenever it was demanded. 
It was a poor exchange for hours taken from needful 
household duties, rest, and sleep. 

There was no hay in the world^to equal the Middle- 


sex hay for the London market ; no scent in the 
world to surpass that of the inside of one of its 
trusses. How the sleek, tabby stable-cat appreci- 
ated it as he curled himself up in it, and absorbed 
its fragrance in his bright, well-cleaned coat ! How 
charming to lift him warm from the truss, and listen 
to him purring, while the horse, looking round, joined 
in a subdued whinny " Grace before meals." As soon 
as the fields were cleared, they were top-dressed with 
well-rotted manure, and shut up for the St. Swithin 
rains to force the eddish, or aftermath, in prospect of 
the great fair at Barnet in the first week of September. 
This attracted thousands of Welsh and Scotch cattle, 
to say nothing of ponies and screwed horses, and wild 
Welsh sheep as well. Here I made my first acquaintance 
with the fraternity of dealers, beginning by buying of 
Welshmen small cows which were fatted off in the eddishes. 
Their sheep I left alone, knowing the impossibility of 
getting a score or so to the farm without losses ; and 
as the dealers brought their flocks of ewes on at once 
to the farmstead, I bought on the spot. But oh, the 
job of keeping them when paid for ! They were branded 
at once ; but none the less one year the whole of my 
little flock disappeared, to be recovered many miles 
off at Reading. No fences kept them ; those they 
could not jump they crept through, and I have known 
them caught by their heads in rabbit-snares. At last, 
when a Midland consort, a stay-at-home gentleman, 
was put among them, they quieted down for the winter. 
Let the weather become ever so severe or the snow 
ever so smothering, they had no idea of eating hay, even 
if put in their way. They much preferred brambles, and 
scratched like reindeer through the snow to get at the 


scanty grass. With the spring came the lambs, sold off 
at excellent prices as soon as fit ; and then a few weeks 
later the dams, stripped of so much of their fleeces 
as they had not left on the hedges, were disposed of 
for mutton. 



I JOINED the Royal Agricultural Society of England, 
as a life-member, in 1843, but I had been present at 
its second General Show, held at Cambridge on Parker's 
Piece in 1840, a very modest affair, remarkable, however, 
for the excellence of Southdown sheep exhibited by Mr. 
Jonas Webb, of Babraham. He, as well as his landlord 
Mr. Adeane, had been a close friend of my father, and 
after his death, when my mother had a farm in hand, 
he made her annually, as a present, the loan of one of 
his sheep to run with the ewes. I had not long left 
college when my mother, at my instigation, sold Pinner 
Hill, and went to reside at Wilburton, our Cambridge- 
shire property, some description of which I have already 
given. The lapse of years had brought but little change. 
The fen, with its " grounds," " dykes," and " droves," 
was just the same. The steam-engines and scoop-wheels 
secured it from flood, unless the river banks were burst 
or " blown" that is, undermined by vertical pressure 
of a very high flood and deep water. Then hundreds 
of acres became again " bright " with a sheet of water, 
and there was a deluge. The " highlands " were still 
all open, unenclosed fields. There was hardly any 
"waste," but "common rights" and "sheep-walks" 
existed in every parish. There was, too, much copyhold 
land, and the tithe was high ; rectories therefore were 
valuable ; benefices of one thousand, two thousand, 



four thousand a year existed in the neighbourhood. 
Fifteen or sixteen miles off was one of eight thousand 
a year. The see of Ely, as held by Bishop Sparke, was 
correspondingly wealthy, and the " pickings " attached 
to it, in the way of patronage and ecclesiastical offices, 
superb. The incumbent, here and there, found the 
climate uncongenial or bad for his wife. It was not 
very difficult to become a licensed absentee. When, 
however, Dr. Allen became Bishop, a stop was put to 
all this. The asthmatical, the rheumatic, the agueish, 
who pressed their infirmities on the notice of that ex- 
cellent prelate, were all met with the firm but gentle 
declaration, " Reside or resign." Remonstrance and 
medical certificates availed nothing, and the gentleman 
" in black with a white tie " had to continue his spiritual 
teaching on the spot. I admit that, unless his heart 
and soul were enlisted in performing the duties of his 
calling, it was a sorry existence. 

The parish open field has now almost entirely dis- 
appeared, through the passing of private enclosure acts 
or the operation of the General Enclosure Act of 1845. 
Having myself owned land, much of which was in the open 
fields, and having also been the lord of a " strict " 
manor, I can but laugh, and at the same time lament, 
over the ridiculous nonsense disseminated on this sub- 
ject by the democratic orator and politician, and by the 
so-called liberal author. To begin with " the lord." I 
did not find that I had rights of common on the surface 
of the waste or on the ways or common land of the com- 
moners more than an utter stranger. The right to graze 
the ways with cows was confined to a limited number of 
persons, the commoners. Horses, goats, geese, sheep, 
were not commonable animals. The sheep were in three 


limited flocks, the first belonging to the manor, the 
second to the rectory, while the third was an independent 
one, the rights of which could be bought and sold. These 
three rights of grazing were called sheep-walks. The 
sheep in each had its shepherd, who stalked ahead of 
his flock, the dog bringing up the rear and every now 
and again rushing in, police fashion, at any ewe that 
ventured to snatch a bite from the corn that grew on the 
ends of the " lands," which, unprotected, bordered the 
green " ways " between the cropping. The commoners' 
cows, about twenty- two in number, were " flitted," 
or tethered, with rope and shackle out of reach of the 
corn. After harvest on a given day the commoners' 
cattle and pigs roved all over the stubbles to pick up 
the " shack." They also stocked an inter-parochial 
waste or common at all seasons of the year, and it was 
the commoners, not the lord of the manor, who resented 
and resisted the intrusion of the " public " claiming or 
attempting to turn stock on this land. Sometimes the 
trespass was summarily stopped by ham-stringing the 
unprivileged animals. The vulgar idea of the general 
public having rights of any kind on the waste or common- 
able land was never for a moment admitted. When the 
enclosures took place in those days, the " public " got 
nothing, nor were any interests considered except those 
of the landowners and commoners. The labourers, 
qua labourers, got nothing in the case of the early en- 
closures, but in the later ones Professor Fawcett and 
others secured the insertion in the Acts of Parliament 
of clauses setting out, on the waste, allotment grounds 
for their use and enjoyment, at fixed rents. 

Some coveys of quails were hatched out in the summer, 
and the golden plover was not then a stranger. Mention 


is made in Shakespeare's plays of the quail-pipe, which 
has greatly puzzled his commentators, as it did me, 
till one day, when gossiping with some old people, I 
saw hanging on the wall of their little room a belt with 
buckle and three appendages dangling from it like the 
teats of a cow. I was told these were pipes used for taking 
quails. They were leather pipes with a mouth-piece 
like that of a whistle at one end, the other being closed. 
Upon forcing the air out with a squeeze of the hand, a 
whistle came like that of the quail. The note of one 
pipe was loud, the next not so loud, the third quite faint. 
The " quailer," concealing himself in high corn, used 
the first pipe as a challenge. This would excite a defiant 
answer from any quail within hearing, and brought it 
running towards the challenge. The quailer then used 
his second pipe, leading the bird to imagine that his 
challenger was making off in a. funk. The use of the 
faint pipe confirmed this view of the situation, and 
maddened with passion, either pugnacious or amorous, 
the duped quail rushed blindly into the net at the quailer's 
feet. The golden plover, flying low at night, were taken 
in long nets set up on stakes right across a fen-ground. 

The pike and other coarse fish were captured in bow- 
nets set in the dykes and engine-drains, or snared with 
a wire loop ; and the figure of a man with a leaping- 
pole in one hand and a spear in the other, on the 
quest for eels, was often seen parading the sides of the 

In the winter we went after wild-fowl, ducks, widgeon, 
teal. These birds frequented the flooded rivers and 
" washes " i.e. the wide flats bordering the rivers, and 
the banks raised to prevent the flooding of the fen-land. 
There were some famous ones, called the " Hundred- 



foot Washes," stretching for miles between the em- 
bankments of the Old and the New Bedford Rivers, 
the " cuts " by which the Ouse was conducted in a 
straight line of many miles from Earith towards King's 
Lynn, above which town it was joined by the old stream 
of the river, swelled by its junction with the Cam. In 
ordinary weather the upland waters of the Ouse passed 
down the New Bedford River ; but in wet seasons and in 
winter the sluices at Earith had to be drawn and the 
flood allowed to find its way into the " washes," which 
would be under water for weeks. On to these washes 
and rivers, in the cold hours of dawn, the little gun- 
boats paddled out, each with its long duck-gun pointed 
ahead, the stock butting against the shoulder of the 
gunner, who lay stretched at full length on the flat bottom 
of the boat, with his arms over the side paddling, and 
his eyes looking along the barrel. A bunch of sedge 
was sometimes fastened on the bow, which concealed 
the low boat coming " end-on " up to the floating birds. 
Cold and anxious moments these were ; the sun, not 
yet risen, would be just lighting up the mists that hung 
along the fen-land, and what had to be done must be 
done before he was well over the horizon. Those in the 
boats, however, were not the only fowlers abroad at this 
early hour ; behind the banks, in their long fen-boots, were 
the wild-fowlers with hand-guns. If these men showed 
themselves on the banks, the birds took alarm and were 
off hi safe flight ; so a compact prevailed, the terms of 
which were that those on land should find the heavy 
charges for the long duck-guns in the boats which 
had the first shot at the bunch of birds. All that 
the discharge killed dead or that could be picked up by 
the boat, the paddler took ; while the wounded were left 


to the mercy of the hand-gunners, who finished them off 
as best they could. 

The bittern was then almost extinct drainage and 
cultivation had made away with his sanctuaries ; but I 
once saw a lad in the fen carrying a dead one over his 
shoulder, which he told me had just been shot by his 

In the bogs and water-splashes of the half-drained 
wastes, or " summer lands," there was still fair snipe- 
shooting. In days gone by the tale of the bag was not 
rendered in numbers, but by measure, and it was good sport 
for a party to kill a peck. My best day of fen sport was 
most unexpected. It was on a very close, hot third of 
September that I was on the point of starting off for 
partridges, when a message was sent me that the Hundred- 
foot Washes, ten miles off, were full of snipe. There 
had been some wet weather and a full moon. I could 
rely on the information, and lost no time hi driving with 
my brother and a friend down to the spot. Here we 
tied the horse up against a willow stump and stepped 
out on the wash. The snipes zigzagged up at every 
step ; the air seemed full of them. One or two other 
guns were out, and several fenmen snaring the birds in 
springs about as fast as we shot them. They begged of 
us not to molest them as poachers ; being poachers 
ourselves, we magnanimously consented. The day was 
so close and hot that I shot in my shirt-sleeves, and found 
an hour's occupation in an osier holt, where I was caught, 
without any shelter, hi a terrible thunder-storm and 
drenched to the skin. The large white convolvulus, or 
" bind- weed," justified its popular name by stretching 
from osier to osier and lacing them together. As the 
osiers were well grown and about eight feet high, they 


offered a supple but effectual hindrance to progress, 
and I found that to get on I must cut my way through 
the ropes of bind-weed with my pocket-knife. This 
I did, but it required some skill and quickness to " stop " 
the snipe as they jerked themselves up to and along 
the very top leafy twigs of the osiers. There were many 
misses, but enough kills. Out of and along that holt 
I came away with a bunch, strung on an osier, of snipes 
full birds, no jacks, one green shank, three ruffs and 
reeves, and a " Jerusalem " snipe, the large, solitary sort. 
When I picked this bird up he was so fat, the day so 
hot, and his fall so heavy that my hands and wrists 
were smeared with grease. Towards evening the birds 
seemed to be moving away, and on the next day only a 
straggler or two or a wounded cripple could be found. 
Barring the day on which I killed my first stag, this 
was the most eventful for sport that I ever enjoyed. 
On the whole, there was more real sport in it, as I have 
always regarded stalking with a first-rate stalker as 
no great strain on one's muscles, and the finale as not 
more heroic than putting a bullet from a Winchester 
rifle into the head of a Texan ox in a Chicago stock-yard. 
In the evening of this third of September, after dinner, 
my friend, who had been wild with the day's excursion, 
retired for some time to a writing-table, squared his 
elbows, and became very silent over some sheets of letter- 
paper. I asked him what he was about, and he replied, 
"Writing to The Field newspaper." With his permission, 
I was granted a sight of the manuscript, which, as I 
expected, was a narrative of his prowess, a record of the 
bag, and a minute description of the exact locality where 
such free sport could be enjoyed. I put it in the fire, 
not seeing the good of informing the readers of The Field 


where they might kill snipe without having anything 
to pay. 

The fen-waters which attracted the wild-fowl were in 
one locality (Mepal), famous for smelts ; not the little 
gudgeon things now on the market, but fine fellows the size 
of a herring or small mackerel. When just caught, they 
had the fragrance of a cucumber. I believe nowhere else 
are these fish caught of such a size, and that the entire take 
of them is monopolised by one fishmonger in Bond Street. 

There was a queer little bird I sometimes came 
across in the Midlands, the dotterel, not easily got 
at unless you were acquainted with their failing, which 
was insatiable curiosity stirred by strange objects. 
They appeared in the spring in little flights of half a 
dozen or so on the open fields. Taking my gun, I would 
get within their view and then hang head downwards 
over a gate with my legs in the air like a semaphore, or 
go into contortions on the ground. This soon brought 
the inquisitive little creatures round about within gun- 
shot. They are excellent eating cooked like snipe. 

About this time the Fen Commissioners undertook 
the scouring out of the old channel of the River Ouse, 
otherwise the " Ow " West River. St. Audrey's (St. 
Etheldreda's) Causeway crossed it at that time by an old 
wooden bridge, now removed. As it had been the ancient 
entrance by land to the Isle of Ely, it had been the scene 
of many a conflict from the days of the Roman Settle- 
ment to those of the Norman Conquest. In the mud 
under and near the bridge was found an eight-oared 
canoe, hollowed out of a solid oak trunk, in very fair 
preservation ; it was removed and placed along the 
side of the parish church, where the sun and rain soon 
put an end to it, not, however, before I had seen it. 


Together with the canoe were found flint celts and arrow- 
heads, Roman weapons, and others of a later date. 

The fens are rich in the traces of pre-historic man. 
Their burial-places are on the summits of the low sand- 
hills, where the square cist, unlined with slabs of stone, 
was carefully cut in the hard dry sand, and the body 
tucked in it in a sitting position, with the knees drawn 
up to the breast-bone. A poorly baked burial-urn, 
formed by thumbing up the clay (the potter's wheel 
not being in use), was frequently found with the body. 
Here also occasionally appeared the tremendous horns 
of the contemporary ox. In a neighbouring fen the 
skull of one was found, the forehead still transfixed by 
the celt by which the animal met his death from the 
vigorous hand of one of our forefathers. In a fen-ground 
near one of my farms an extraordinary find was made 
of bronze weapons and fittings. Over four dozen of 
spear-heads came to light, many of them quite perfect, 
but no two alike either in size, shape, or pattern. With 
these were long bronze (14-inch) ferrules and perforated 
knobs the size of a walnut, as well as wide bronze tips 
probably belonging to leather or skin straps. Again, 
in another spot some of my men were " f eying " out 
a dyke, when they came on a leaf-shaped bronze sword 
in excellent preservation, the edge as keen as it was 
two thousand years ago. I nearly cut my fingers in 
lifting it off the ground. 

Then, later on, there is evidence that history was 
anticipating itself and that the Romans were carrying 
on a barter trade with the British fenman, no doubt for 
beaver furs, for the tooth of the beaver is ever present 
under the fen-peat. Large and deep excavations were 
in progress in the next parish, in order to obtain the 


deposit of coprolite in the green-sand subsoil. This 
was reached by removing twelve feet of the black 
fen-earth. When the men came early to their work one 
day they found a great " colch," or slip, had taken place 
during the night, and brought down with it a very ample 
service of Roman pewter dishes and plates, together with 
glass-case bottles and ware, and many common coloured 
glazed beads as large as marbles, which, I conjecture, 
were there for the purpose of barter. With these was a 
pointed oak stake, split out of the heart of a tree. My 
imaginary scene, then, was this : The spot, which was 
close to the " highland " shore- way of a mere, was a 
landing-place, the stake being there for securing the 
boats or canoes, when some catastrophe or violence had 
brought the whole equipment to grief, and it had been 
abandoned and submerged in the mere. The reduced 
vestiges of the mere were still there not long before I 
was born, but now artificially drained away. 

The aquatic flora of the fen dykes and rivers is singu- 
larly beautiful and interesting. The utricularia, or 
bladder-wort, a lovely little flower, and the aloe-like 
stratiotes, or water-soldier, are both found near Ely. The 
hot to nia, or water-primrose, adorns most of the dykes with 
a tall spike of delicate pink flowers, and a graceful yellow 
water-lily is not uncommon in the still undisturbed back- 
waters of the sluggish rivers. The tall reed was cut 
in the washes and meres and used as thatching, the 
universal covering of cottage and barn roofs. The 
cottages were very generally built of wood frames filled in 
with wattle on which the plaster was laid ; this had an 
annual outside whitewashing at the time of the village 
feast. There were occasional brick ovens, and, in every 
house, a capacious earthen-ware pot to hold salt pork. 


The bread was made from the " gleaning," a very 
valuable addition secured by the women and children 
for the household stock. They could gather two or 
three pounds' worth in the harvest, for all was cut 
with the sickle or hook, and no horse- or hand-rake could 
clear up the litter after the harvesters. The gleaners 
were started altogether from the village by the ringing 
of a bell, and this summons did not sound until time 
had been allowed for the completion of household duties. 
Then the troop hurried away, together with much 
"clack" and badinage. 

The bread, the butter, and the salt pork were 
excellent could not be better ; and great economy 
was observed in cooking. The man's dinner was 
prepared in this way. A blanket of plain dough was 
rolled out, a piece of fat salt pork was lapped up 
in it, together with a potato or perhaps a small apple 
and part of an onion ; then the dumpling was boiled. 
The husband, coming home from work for supper, had 
this handed him on a plate, but only to contemplate in 
its integrity ; the wife brought the knife and fork, 
cut the dumpling open, removed the piece of pork in a 
basin, and shut it up for safety in the cupboard, leaving 
the dough, the potato, the onions, and all the abundant 
gravy on the plate. This soon disappeared, to be followed 
by a pipe and bed before the candle was alight. The 
next day the cold pork with a hunch of bread and an 
onion went afield in the man's " satchel," and formed 
his substantial " dockey," or " thumb-bit," at half -past 
nine or ten o'clock. He made his own breakfast in the 
house at about five o'clock in the morning. He left off 
work at six, unless he was at piece-work, draining or 
" claying," for which he stripped to his shirt and went 


off home by four o'clock. The wife was then expected 
to have the dumpling done to a turn, and, in front of the 
peat fire, his slippers, into which her lord and master 
thrust his tired feet after removing the heavy fen-boots, 
and unbuttoning his breeches at the knees. No fen- 
labourer wore trousers in those days or worked in 

My most powerful labourer, a man six feet high and of 
a breadth in proportion, always ready for the hardest 
work, draining or claying, had for his little wife Maria 
(" Ria," we called her), the village gossip and chatterer. 
" Up and down town," she was always at it. A very 
noisy wrangle over a parish charity on one occasion 
took up her time and attention so entirely that the 
dumpling went out of her mind. Her husband, finding 
no dinner ready, took off his leather waist-strap, and 
with no questions asked, " gave " it Ria soundly. She 
retaliated in " tongue-banging," and subsided into 
tears. The next morning the strap was missing, and 
a red cotton handkerchief had to take its place as a 
belt. On the husband's return he found the fire bright, 
a clean tablecloth, a cheerful, forgiving wife, and an 
extra large dumpling smoking under his nose. The 
poor fare of yesterday doubled his appetite. With no 
loss of time or grace said, watched all the time by little 
Ria, who stood opposite with her hands on her hips, 
a wicked look in her eyes, and, parted lips, he gave one 
greedy slash of the knife ; the dumpling came apart, and 
out rolled the missing strap, dry and destroyed. Now 
says Ria, " You gave me the strap yesterday, and I am 
giving it to you to-day, and hope you will like the taste 
of it." That was bad enough for the poor fellow, but 
nothing to what followed, when Ria had informed the 


neighbours of how she " had taught her John to give 
her the strap." Ria survived her husband some years. 
When too feeble from age to parade the streets with 
her " clack," she would stand or sit in her cottage door- 
way with her feet on the footpath, and retail all the 
local scandal she could collect or invent to passers-by, 
stopping the horsekeepers with their teams to listen 
to it. Many a time did she pull me up, to hear her 
tale of distress : how " them Guardins " had no hearts, 
and expected a poor widow to live on the smell of a red 
herring, and pay rent out of it as well ; and she would 
like to know where they expected to go hereafter. 

My foreman was a beautifully made, swarthy little 
man, with small hands and feet, open forehead and 
splendid teeth, short black hair and eyes, with gipsy blood 
in his veins, and as quick and powerful as a fox-terrier. 
He could neither read nor write ; he therefore never 
forgot his instructions or the right time for doing business. 
He was, of course, first-rate with horses (" meres," as 
he called them all, irrespective of sex). When the day 
was over and he came in to report, he had something 
of the appearance of a Red Indian on the warpath. 
Bits of string would be dangling from his buttons, and 
pieces of straw looped in the buttonholes down one 
side and up the other. Then he would begin in this 
style, with the top string in his finger and thumb. " That 
'ere mere Dapper, she ain't foaled yet," and out went 
the string. Then, going down one button, " We ain't 
quite ' disannulled ' the muck-hill in ten acres ; I laid 
out to do it, but one of your old carts broke down." 
Away with another straw. Then, still going down 
with his nervous hand, " The ' baws ' [boys that is, 
men] are talking about a shilling more next month." 


No one, it should be explained, is a " boy " on the farm 
till he has come of age. Typical " boys " in the fens are 
from sixty-five to seventy-five years of age ; but shep- 
herds, horsekeepers, thatchers, drillmen, and threshers 
were generally referred to by their distinctive title. 
So the strings and the straws were removed, one by one, 
down the sleeve, waistcoat button-holes on the left side, 
down the left leg gaiter, up the right leg and waistcoat 
buttons. When all were littered on the carpet, the head 
would be scratched for any point that might not have 
been stringed or strawed. Then came some opinions 
on the look of things in general, ending almost invariably 
with sarcasms on the lawyers : " Them chaps that sit 
at high desks with pens behind their ear, scratching 
their heads for a lie." The little man had married 
Rachel at the chapel, a devout lady with a tangle of 
yellow hair like a German f rau of singularly unattractive 
features. A better wife, a more saintly creature or a 
more industrious, never lived. Anything so unlike Ria 
it would be impossible to conceive. They had one 
feature, however, in common an untidy dress. Ria 
was born for village life, Rachel for a solitude, where 
the stillness was only broken by the lark, the peewit, 
and the cuckoo on the common, by her own numerous, 
sturdy children indoors, and by the geese, turkeys, and 
poultry under her charge for rearing at so much per head. 
Their home and the homestead was in the middle of 
a waste and common of 1,300 acres, on a farm 
which, with three others, made up an enclosed square 
of 400 acres of " Adventurers' land," Bedford Level 
Corporation land that is,, awarded to the Adventurers 
in the days of Charles I. for their great recovery works, 
which included a bank and dyke round the enclosure, 


and a drain five or six miles long to remove the stagnant 
water. This it did effectually from the higher portions 
of the farms, thus making the common into " summer 
land," with the exception of the lower portion, where 
peats were dug, leaving pools never dry at any time. 
There were some forty or fifty acres of this farm too 
low for natural drainage in wet times, so a windmill was 
erected with a scoop-wheel to lift the water out of the 
mill drain over the bank to the outside dyke. It was 
on the common hard by that a man, picking his way 
by moonlight, nearly trod on some glittering object 
at his feet. It was the end of a splendid gold " torque." 
He dug it out with his knife, and became the finder of a 
relic for the mere gold of which a silversmith gave him 
50. It is now, I believe, in the British Museum. A 
Roman pottery commencing on the common ran for 
nearly a mile down the farms, and, when the fen was 
enclosed and cultivated, much broken pottery came 
to light, with the patterns of hard polished red-ware 
and the Roman potters' names stamped at the bottom. 
There were, with these, various potters' implements 
polishing stones, querns for grinding the " slip " and 
the foreign material of which it was composed, a few 
coins, but no bricks. These large works seemed to be 
confined to the production of pottery alone. It must 
have been a busy scene, with its multitude of workers 
and the kilns all alight a strange contrast to the quiet 
common and fen, with only one old house on it and the 
foreman's family to people 1,700 acres. 

About the year 1840 a catchwater drain was carried 
all round the fen, by which the surface water of the 
surrounding high land was intercepted from flooding 
the low land and passed away to the River Cam. Before 


this a small flat-bottomed boat had to be used to reach 
the foreman's house in rainy times, and to prevent its 
floating away and to have it handy, it was attached to 
the latch of the door by a short bit of cord. His farm 
was a fine one, costing 70 an acre to buy and producing 
wonderful crops of wheat and oats. It took some 
strength of team and carts to carry off the threshed 
produce. Now all is changed. The whole fen has been 
enclosed, the drainage made complete, and a railway goes 
down its middle with two stations on it ; but with all 
this the value of the old farm has declined 50 per 
cent., and the poetry and picturesque are civilised 

It was a trying time to the placid, humble wife who 
had never even been in the market town, four miles away, 
who knew nothing more of the world than she could 
gather from her Bible and the packman who paid an 
annual spring visit with material for her needle and 
knitting. Once a week, when the fen was passable 
and the reaped corn in shocks dotted all the arable, she 
would make her husband and the little ones pick their 
way with her to the Baptist Chapel, for which the same 
best bonnet served her all her life. She might delay 
for five minutes when the " chapelers " buzzed out of 
the little Bethel into the town street, while her husband 
made off to the Chequers for his pint and pipe; and 
then, with her soul full of religious fervour, her hand 
resting on a clean, folded white handkerchief, as was 
the way with pious " chapelers," she would gather her 
brood round her skirts, the very skirts in which she 
was married, and get back over the fen before the light 
faded away, and so to bed without waste of candle, 
leaving the flint and steel in the tinder-box on the window- 


ledge for her husband, whose latest hour of return might 
be ^even o'clock. 

Oh ! "that dear woman's knowledge of the Old Testa- 
ment and patching was thorough. If the Old Testament 
has not gone out of favour in the cottage now, patching 
has. Rachel's quilt was all squares like a chess-board, 
and the polygonal insertions in the boys' clothes replaced 
most of the original material. She never read a news- 
paper. The " keeping-room " floor was of plain brick, 
uneven with age, and, in spring, was in possession of a 
hen or two with their broods of chicks. Occasionally 
a pullet came in cautiously and silently to lay, which 
achievement over, she rushed out to proclaim the event, 
leaving the rooms in a sleepy silence, broken only by the 
regular tick of the grandfather's clock and the low, 
monotonous cluck of the brooding hens. 

The little swarthy foreman's orders had to be obeyed, 
and as an expert he led the way in most of the operations, 
his hand ever on the plough, the drill, or the hoe, never 
on the pen or book. When the wooden beer-bottles were 
in the rickyard, the conversation on the stack became 
lively and sparkled with flashes of wit. As I stood at 
the foot of the ladder on a hot harvest day, this was what 
passed above. I had bought a handsome cart-mare, 
and one of the " boys," who had been sent to fetch her, 
was expected every minute to return. A noisy dis- 
cussion arose as to what name was to be given her. One 
shouted " Depper," another " Smiler," another " Black- 
bird." At last, at the suggestion of the stacker, " Beauty " 
was decided on. Upon this the foreman, who had taken 
no part in the talk, interposed in a loud remonstrance, 
" I won't have no ' mere ' called ' Beauty ' on this 
farm ; * Beauty's ' the name for a woman, not a cart- 


mere." This was a very positive and disturbing inter- 
dict after the name had been voted ; a rather sullen silence 
ensued, which, however, was cruelly broken by the wit 
of the gang remarking, " You didn't think of that, Joe, 
when you married Rachel ! " This was much applauded 
by all except Joe, after which nothing was heard but 
the rustle of the warm sheaves as the stacker kneed 
them into their proper position. 

The aspect of the village in 1842 and the subsequent 
changes were as striking as the aspect of the open 
field and its conversion into enclosures. There was 
one long street running east and west on a most fertile 
ridge of land some sixty feet above the level of the 
surrounding fen. The church stood at one end of the 
street, the Beristead, or Manor House, and its curtilage 
at the other. Between the two on either side were the 
homes of the people, with one old-fashioned public- 
house and at intervals small yards and sheds for cattle. 
A butcher (chiefly for excellent pork), a wheelwright, two 
bakers, a cobbler, and a tailor made up the shops ; very 
many of the cottages had excellent fruit gardens at the 
back. A labourer paying fourteen pounds rent for house 
and garden would sell sixty pounds' worth of plums from 
it in a favourable year. These little people loaded two 
wagon loads of fruit a week to go by road all the way to 
Covent Garden. The staple produce was green goose- 
berries, black currants, and a variety of plum named the 
" Wheatens," because its yield was gathered in harvest 
time. These gardens never required or had any manure. 
I have known them for over sixty years, and, with the 
exception of black currants, their yield has not decreased. 
In addition, there were half a dozen important home- 
steads standing back from the streets, with conspicuous 


barns thatched with imperishable reed. Here, when 
all the folk were afield and the whole place still, one 
could hear the solid thump of the flail. Haulm walls, 
built of stubble, enclosed the yards. There was a cart- 
stable with a hatch door opening into a yard, and a crib 
in the middle for fodder, for the horses never lay in 
at night. The big double barn doors opened into another 
yard, and let in the warm sun on the threshing-floor 
with its golden scatter. A high hatch-board shut off 
the pigs constantly routing up the abundant litter, and 
over this board, ever and anon, the thresher put out the 
sweet straw, fresh and fragrant from the flail. The horned 
stock enjoyed this browse, standing in the winter sun 
to pick it over. In a convenient spot was the hand- 
pump, and here and there the drinking- troughs which 
it supplied. If the crop under the flail was beans, the 
shepherd paid frequent visits to the thresher, complaining 
of " ne'er a bean being left in the coshes for the poor 
yowes." The man of the flail retorted that the gaffer 
had been at him this very morning feeling the coshes 
and threatening to sack him off next Saturday if he did 
not thresh cleaner. " What was a chap to do ? " 
Some of these barns had two threshing-floors, two men 
working opposite to each other on each floor. If the 
wage was low, the work was continuous, and under cover, 
and as it was frequently task work, more money than 
the average rate of day work could be got out of it by 
the best hands. 

With wheat at the high prices of those times, the 
temptation to pilfer, with six or seven to provide for, 
was great. The " satchel," or flag-basket, in which the 
thresher brought his food could be used for purloining, 
but a cleverer method was to fill the empty beer-bottle 


with grain. As these little hooped kegs held a gallon, 
a good deal could be brought away under the nose of 
an inexperienced master. The window of the kitchen 
or bedroom, however, generally gave a view of the yard 
and barn door, and the labourer knew that he was possibly 
being watched. Threshers working bare-headed frequently 
begged or bought old stove-pipe hats to wear between 
the cottage and the barns, and these again I have known 
to go home filled with wheat nervously balanced on 
the head of the " shrewd forefather of the hamlet." 
One of the yards had the Tithe Barn for a shelter on one 
side. Hither the hated wagon carried out of the field 
the tithe shocks, every tenth one of the whole harvest. 
No harvest carting could start until the rector's shocks 
had been marked. In one fen parish I saw this done 
by sticking lusty dark docks full of seed on the topmost 
sheaves of the rectorial tribute. These all went into 
his barn, and so into his sample and sacks, and, what 
was even worse, where the tithe-owner sowed his own 
tithe seed, the glebe became fouled with dock-weeds 
beyond the possibility of eradication, for hoeing does 
not destroy this hardy, spike-rooted offender. To do 
that, every plant must be pulled up by hand and burnt. 
Even then, old labourers declare, their ashes will grow. 
It is a fact that in walking over some parishes you could 
tell when you were crossing glebe land by the abundance 
of docks, while in the next field hardly a score could be 

The Rectory Farm was close to the church; the 
tenant occupied the Rectory. His house was a frame 
house, constructed, that is, in frames of oak, filled in with 
lath and plaster, and the chimney was a huge one of 
red brick. The timber had come out of large ecclesi- 



astical buildings formerly standing on the spot. Here 
Henry VII. paid a week's visit, but all the old house 
of that date, except the foundation and the cellar, had 
been long cleared away. The foundations, when bared, 
exactly coincided with a plan of the buildings in the 
British Museum. 

At the Manor Farm the tenant occupied one wing 
of the Beristead. The large area, about three acres, 
covered by buildings, as well as the curtilage, sur- 
rounded with an imperishable wall built of soft red 
brick, topped by a heavy coping, bespoke the importance 
of the holding ; while the large square dove-house, with its 
high-pitched tiled roof and wide cantilever eaves, bore 
witness to the old seignorial rights of the manor. Hundreds 
of doves, blue rocks, darted in and out of the sort of 
wooden cupola at its summit, or went away in a flock 
to the open field for food among the grain crop. They 
were privileged birds, manorial robbers. No inhabitant, 
certainly no copyholder, could kill or maim one but at 
the risk of the law. No one could keep doves, blue rocks, 
within the limits of the manor ; but fancy pigeons, stay- 
at-home birds, never making the wide, rapacious excur- 
sions of the swift blue rock, were permitted. These 
little robbers had, however, a bad time of it between 
" haysel " (hay time) and harvest, when they had to 
content themselves with the ripened seed of the field 
grasses. As the doggerel proverb expressed it : 

When the doves " a-benting " go, 
That doth work the dove- house woe. 

Sacks of seeds and poor tail-corn were then thrown 
down for them, but it was considered illegal or against 
custom to place sheaves of corn inside the dove-house 


or cakes of old mortar and salt to attract doves from 
other manors at this trying season. 

The manor barn, thatched with reed, was the largest 
building in the neighbourhood, though it had but one 
threshing-floor ; but its bays were most capacious, and 
would hold the better part of the barley crop. As this 
was thrown off the harvest carts, a huge cart-horse was 
being continually walked over the top of the mow to 
tread it down, and there was some ado to get him 
down when the mow was full up to the eaves. 

In the centre of the Beristead, between the two bold, 
projecting wings, was the hall, or court-room. Here 
hung the Royal arms of Elizabeth, of embossed leather, 
of true heraldic colours and quarterings, with the 
dragon as one of the supporters, most magnificent. 
The lion, with teeth and claws to dream of, pawing the 
shield, turned his menacing head full face to you as 
if he was snarling at Spain, and made you think of the 
Armada. On one side was the red rose of York, on 
the other the white of Lancaster, the whole in a suitable 
frame of the period. Under this insignia, 300 years after 
it was first displayed in the court, precisely the same 
proceedings are being carried on in the nineteenth and 
twentieth centuries. The lord's steward is there with 
the rolls and minute book, the courts leet and courts 
baron are held as of old, the jury summoned and in 
their places to see equity and law observed, fines for 
admission are fixed (for here the fines were arbitrary), 
and the tenant, sometimes represented by his attorney, 
is " admitted," thus acquiring the title to his copyhold 
estate. Quit-rents are paid, and, before the date of the 
enclosures, encroachment on the common- ways reported 
and set back. The bailiff and pinder, if required, are 


present, and the customs of the manor not allowed to 
fall into desuetude. All this was then in marked con- 
trast to the practices and rule of the Church of England 
at the other end of the village. There were all the 
evidences of neglect and disregard of duty. The offici- 
ating clergyman, a curate's curate, non-resident and 
feeble-minded, stammered so that he could not get 
through the Lord's Prayer without a struggle, and his 
recital of the service was nothing but a long attempt, 
ending in painful vocal gulps entirely unintelligible. 
Not a soul ever attended the service, except a few children 
with their devoted teacher. She, without any reward, 
with no ambition, her services unrecognised, week after 
week came, through all weathers, from an adjacent 
village, Bible and Prayer Book in hand, a very missionary 
to the village children. She left in time to marry and 
has long passed to her rest, but not before my mother and 
sister, at last residents, had become her fast friends 
and supporters. 

The first time I went to church I reached the porch 
before eleven, the " Tantony " bell (St. Anthony's bell) 
still tinkling out its final summons to an unresponsive 
populace. No one appeared ; the long " town street " 
was empty, except where a few bearers of the Sunday 
dinner were to be seen hastening with the dish to the 
baker's oven. At last the clerk dropped the bell rope, 
and coming out, said to me that if I would go in they 
would begin. So I marched into the old canopied manor 
pew, something like an omnibus off its wheels, raised 
two steps above the floor of the building, as indeed were 
the rest of the pews, all of them then as empty as egg- 
shells. The tracery and mullions of the large windows 
were decaying and broken away ; much of the glass 


was out, and where sufficient had gone to justify the 
work, panels of brickwork were inserted. The fine 
oak screen, which once was canopied by a rood-loft, was 
whitewashed. The leaden roof leaked, and the walls 
were patched with green dampness. Mercifully there 
had been no attempts at architects' restoration ; all 
the possibilities of a fine derelict remained for future 
work. There were some fine brasses in the church ; 
an ecclesiological society, becoming informed of this, 
was inspired with the desire of appropriating them. 
Fortunately, my mother, seeing a hack carriage at the 
church door, went in and found two members of the 
society, tools in hand, in the very act of wrenching off 
the brasses, and interdicted the sacrilege. It was im- 
possible to fold one's hands or remain tongue-tied over 
this state of things. I got appointed churchwarden, 
and cast about for a remedy. Just at that time the 
courts had decided, in the famous Braintree case, that, 
on the report of the churchwardens to the Arch- 
deacon of church dilapidations, that officer (after 
personal inquiry) might issue a monition to the church- 
wardens to make a compulsory rate and carry out the 
needed repairs and restorations. With my brother- 
officer, a resolute farmer, I lost no time in availing myself 
of these powers, had plans and specifications drawn, 
and an estimate made for entire new stone tracery, glazing 
to all the windows, and for the repair of the lead roof 
and other work. The Nonconformists were naturally 
roused to resistance. Their leader, a charming, old- 
fashioned family representative of the oldest parish 
land-owners, went off to take legal advice. He returned 
on his trusty cob in a wind that tore his black frock- 
coat open, with his high hat retained on his head by a 


red handkerchief tied over its top, and slowly rode 
down the " town street " groaning out, " We must pay ! 
we must pay ! " So the great work was commenced and 
finished with much alacrity, and within about a year 
the Braintree judgment was reversed on appeal. No 
harm or ill came of the transaction, nothing but good ; 
the parish church was saved, a great indecency wiped 
out, and this example was followed, by way of rivalry, 
by the erection of a substantial brick meeting-house 
or chapel where none had hitherto been. There re- 
mained, however, the greater scandal of the incompetent 
minister to be removed ; this, after repeated inter- 
views with the ecclesiastical powers, was happily 

In these primitive days land and cottages were sold 
in the public-house by the " pin-in-the-candle." Auc- 
tioneers and duties were thus avoided. I watched the dis- 
posal thus of about eighty pounds' worth of real estate. 
The coming sale was " cried " that is, proclaimed 
" down street " to come off in the evening at the public- 
house. Chairs and benches were placed round the best 
room, to say nothing of jugs and mugs on the table ; in 
the centre of this was a rushlight having a pin passed 
through its wick, about two inches below the top. The 
effect of this introduction is that on the rushlight 
burning down to the pin, the flame is suddenly put out. 
The company collected and the jugs were filled to order, 
the vendor expatiated on the value of the lot, gave 
an oral abstract of his title and revealed its encumbrances, 
every one of which was perfectly well known to the 
whole company. Questions, however, were put, every 
defect and disadvantage made the most of, and many 
conjectural ones suggested. Then the rushlight 


lighted, the room became full of tobacco smoke, the 
mugs were filled, emptied, and again replenished, and, 
the flame being about an inch above the fatal pin, 
the first bid was made, ridiculous in amount, and in 
a tone of indifference. At first no regard was paid to 
the candle-stick, and no one spoke, but all smoked vigor- 
ously. Meanwhile, the flame had got within a quarter 
of an inch of the pin, and a voice doubled the first offer. 
This caused excitement and attention. Speculation 
became contagious, boots were nervously scraped on 
the floor, and here and there a chair drawn forward. 
The persistent flame was nearing its destroyer. Was 
the last bidder to acquire the estate ? One, two, three 
advances in half-crowns were made ; the atmosphere, 
though smoky, became nervous ; eyes glittered, melted 
tallow bathes the pin. Ah ! one more bid, and simul- 
taneously the light disappears. A deposit is paid, no 
other formalities, and the mental strain of the last few 
seconds is relieved by replenished jugs and beakers of 
brandy and water for the purchaser and vendor. 

At that time there was much more field work 
undertaken by women than now. At one time I had 
a woman as horse-keeper ; she looked after a team 
of four. For some years she had disguised her sex 
and undertook the duties of a bargee, directing the 
horses on the river-bank as they dragged the large 
keels loaded with corn from Cambridge to Lynn. 
She dressed like a man, in gaiters and boots and tar- 
paulin hat, and her real personality seems not to have 
been suspected. She had, however, abandoned breeches 
and gaiters for kirtle and smock when I came across 
her. She could do anything with a horse, ever gentle 
with them and kind to all animals. She had been 


" Tom " on the river, she was " Poll " on the farm, 
where she married a splendid workman who treated her 
badly. An Amazon with a reaping-hook, she and her 
husband had no equals in the harvest-field. Other 
women confined themselves to hoeing, haymaking, 
milking, wurzel pulling, loading and cleaning, going 
" woolling," and spinning what they gathered into 
twist, with which they made first-rate mops. In spring 
everything was abandoned for gooseberry picking a 
punishing job, for the sharp thorns pricked the fingers 
unmercifully, so that at the end of a long day you 
would see many a picker seated on the doorstep, soaking 
her hands in a basin of warm water to get " the in- 
flammation out." 

The women were, as a rule, excellent butter-makers, 
for many of the husbands had a cow with a right 
of common on the rich grass " ways." There were 
no less than twenty-one of these cow owners ; for 
winter ( food and fodder they relied on the fine wurzel 
crops and straw which they grew on strips of fen- 
ground ; these there was no difficulty in renting, and 
if the farmer would not lend his team, they could, at a 
pinch, be ploughed with one horse. Flags could be cut, 
as a gift, out of the dykes for litter. Some " fleaks," 
or hurdles, thatched with reed, set up God knows how, 
and roofed with a load of haulm, made an excellent 
warm cowhouse. The pigstye had to be a more sub- 
stantial building, but there it was, to complete the 
cottager's homestead. Of necessity, when the enclosure 
took place, the feeding on the ways was lost ; but I 
arranged to summer the whole twenty-one cows at a 
joisting rent on the finest bit of old pasture on the 
estate. One by one, however, the animals were sold 


off, and are now reduced to about five, while the stock 
of pigs is much diminished. 

There was a good custom of keeping donkeys by 
the " little " people, who dubbed the principal land- 
owners the " great 'uns " (the great ones). Some of 
the " ways " and all their fen-strips being a mile away 
from home, the time taken in going on foot to milk 
and the labour of carrying home the full pails was avoided 
by enlisting the " moke " (donkey), with a stiff pad saddle 
on his back, and a strong yoke-bar over it, notched 
at each end, from which the bright tin pails swung 
by their handles. The milker rode astride behind on 
the animal's rump, and it was a joyous sight to see 
them disappearing at a gallop, in the blaze of the 
setting sun, with glittering reflections between the high 
ranks of grain that abutted on the emerald-coloured 
" ways." 

In the early summer the sheep were washed in the 
river ; a few weeks later those bipeds who had had the 
" call " received their " Baptist dipping " at the same 
convenient spot. That was an important event of 
which due notice was given. On one occasion the en- 
gineer of a large fen pumping-engine lower down stream 
was observed to be engaged in carrying a supply of 
water indoors. On being asked the meaning of this 
very singular operation, he said with a serious face, 
" There's to be a ' dipping ' to-morrow, and my missis 
don't intend to drink all their sins as may drift down 

The varied size of the farms seem to me to have been 
a very fortunate and happy feature. About half the 
parish, fen and highland, belonged to our family. Next 

pame pwners of from one to three hundred acres, 



descending in scale to little freeholds and copyholds of 
from forty acres downwards, and in some instances to 
holdings of fractions of an acre. Most of the land was 
occupied by the owners, certainly all the smaller estates, 
and through all the years of terrible depression succeeding 
1879, this rural community dealt with its difficulties 
in a singularly courageous and uncomplaining way. A 
renting tenant may cry down the value of his holding 
with the prospect of thus obtaining a reduction of rent. 
The occupying owner has every reason not to " crab " 
his own acres, however poor the profit from them. The 
population in this parish has not declined. Early hours, 
plain living, and a suitable working dress still prevail ; 
but the women have in a great degree left off field work 
for wages, though still coming out to help on the small 
family property, or, failing that, on the allotment. They 
can earn half a crown a day readily at fruit picking, 
but gleaning is a thing of the past ; the self-binder and 
horse-rake clean all up, leaving only a little " shack " 
for the pigs. 

Surely the absence of a rural exodus here may be 
attributed to the simplicity of the people's lives and 
habits, and that again to the subdivision of property 
from which their bread and living had to be wrung. 
Tilling the earth still remains their main business, though 
the fruit and their splendid horses really may be said to 
enrich them. There was a tight time for the " great 
uns " when the agricultural labourers' strike gained 
head, and the " agitator " came among us ; but though 
the Press filled their columns with reports of the labourers' 
meetings, the farmers excluded the reporter from their 
gatherings, and so for want of controversy in type, interest 
in the movement died out, and with some very desirable 


rise of wages, work went on as usual. In one fen parish, 
however, all belonging to one owner, be it observed, I 
knew of twenty pair-horse plough teams standing idle 
in the yards, without a man to put the collars on. 

There has been much rigmarole in print about the 
general rural exodus in England ; as a matter of fact, it 
is not confined by any means to England. No doubt the 
low profit and the many losses experienced in farming 
must keep down the rate of money payment for labour, 
but in the country there are notable compensations in 
cheap rent and wholesome living. It strikes me that 
the movement may be accounted for in large measure 
by the feeling of surveillance, and perhaps patronage, 
ever present in close parishes, where the clothing club 
and coal club meetings are the occasion for discuss- 
ing the private failings and domestic peculiarities of the 
smaller people, followed perhaps by a present of tracts 
supposed to be conducive to amendment. In the town 
there is one all-prevailing delightful sense of freedom 
and escape from " goody-goody " observation. I can 
illustrate this by some conversation among work- 
people in which I took part. Some country builder's 
men were doing bricklaying to a tomb under the direction 
of a London artisan. Their employer, a village bricklayer 
and parish clerk, was complaining of the injury his garden 
suffered from rabbits off another owner's land that abutted 
on it, and asked me how he could protect himself. " Why, 
catch them," I said, " or shoot them, if you have a gun 
and a licence to use it." He shook his head over this 
and looked very grave. " You've got the Ground Game 
Act there's your protection," I added, " and why don't 
you avail yourself of it ? If the rabbits eat up your garden 
stuff, they're not even your landlord's rabbits." " Oh ! " 


he groaned, " but I am thinking of my old home, my 
cottage. Whatever the law may be, if I killed them rabbits, 
I can't say what might happen." His workmen chimed 
in with " That's certain sure you could not." The 
Londoner, who had been fidgeting from one foot to 
another, here broke silence by exclaiming, " I say, Mr. 
Clerk, you come to London, and be a free man." 



THE rural exodus has not been confined to the farm 
labourers, as far as my observation goes. It did not begin 
with them ; it occurred first among the class above them. 
In the parish of Hazelbeech, with a population of 133 
people, there were, when I first knew it, a brewer, a butcher, 
a baker, a shoemaker, a carpenter, a tailor, all with families. 
Every one of them has left, and no one of their calling 
sits under the old roof-trees. The beer, the clothes 
(" slops "), the boots, all come by rail. The grocery 
comes by traders' vans. The mowing machine, the 
steam-thresher, the horse-rake, the self-binder, and the 
elevator, have no doubt ousted the farm hands ; but the 
population has not declined. The Hall is rented by a 
wealthy fox-hunting tenant, and stable-helps, grooms, 
house-servants, and gardeners make up the number of 
the old inhabitants in the persons of a different class. 
Sixty years ago this parish boasted even of musicians. 
A bass viol, a violin, and clarionet accompanied Tate 
and Brady's metrical version of the Psalms and old- 
time hymns in the Church services. These have long 
been displaced by an organ and " Hymns, Ancient and 
Modern." The congregation was boxed up in pews; 
mine was a superior pew, lined with green baize fastened 
to it with brass-headed nails. The lower part of the 
window was filled in with brickwork, so was one clere- 
story light, while the stone tracery of another was removed 



to make way for a domestic sash window. There was 
no artificial heat. The family of the late squire were 
stored away in their lead coffins in a sorry vault or grave 
excavated close to one of the pillars of the arcade. This 
caused it to give way, and iron bands were put round it, 
to save it and the north arcade from coming down. The 
Essex churches were most noticeable for pews. A very 
witty friend told me that as a girl she and her father used to 
visit an old-fashioned squire who kept to the Essex 
fashion in dress drab breeches and gaiters, and a green 
coat with brass buttons. There was, of course, the 
family pew, lined with green baize and studded with brass- 
headed nails, and brown rush hassocks to kneel 
on. Her father, who was short-sighted, followed the 
squire at some little distance ; the churchwarden opened 
the Hall pew door for him ; and in the usual church gloom 
he dropped himself at once on what appeared to him a 
comfortable broad green seat, set off with some unusually 
dazzling brass nails. A groan and an upheaval from a 
prone kneeling figure satisfied him that he was sitting 
down on the green back of his host, taking his drab gaiters 
for a hassock. It led to some estrangement between 
the old friends which was never quite removed. 

We had a sensible practice at Hazelbeech, when I first 
made it my home. On Easter Monday, after the church- 
wardens' accounts had been discussed and passed in the 
vestry, with the usual wrangle over the distribution of 
a bread dole smoothed away, half a dozen of the principal 
ratepayers and the parish officers betook themselves to the 
village public-house for a social dinner of solid roast beef 
and plum-pudding, followed by punch dark and strong ; 
and when this had brought us to a sufficiently amiable 
disposition and warmed our generous impulses, the 


chairman proposed that we should make " the Constable's 
Rate " (why called " Constable's " nobody knows, for it 
was a voluntary contribution for the catching of moles). 
We assessed ourselves, not according to our social position, 
but on the scale of the overseers' valuation. The result 
was, we had not a mole-cast in our meadows or gardens. 
Other adjacent parishes did the same, and one old mole- 
catcher cleared a considerable district. An extraordinary 
shepherd-dog accompanied him, who seemed to divine 
the presence of a mole when near the surface, and, pouncing 
down, would tear him out of his run and toss him dead 
in the air. The rural exodus has carried that most 
useful functionary away, together with our highly skilled 
rat-catcher and his vagabond dogs. He was an active, 
little, hunchbacked fellow, but a splendid walker, and when 
he appeared in the distance with his box of ferrets on 
his hunch, Sinbad the Sailor with the Old Man of the 
Sea on his back came to one's mind. 

Fox-hunting was still the sport of the country gentle- 
men, yeomen, and farmers. The country was not so 
full then of " captains," and there was no difficulty over 
the Hunt fund. The cost of the equipment was estimated 
at a thousand pounds for each day in the week that 
the pack went out ; for instance, if the meets were, say, 
Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays three thousand 

Of Dick Webster, the rough rider, I saw a good deal ; 
there was a great rivalry between him and " Cap " 
Tomalin, of Billesdon. Dick had good old country blood 
in his veins, and when young was almost a teetotaler. 
Mr. Vowe, of Hallaton, was his uncle a fine specimen 
of Midland stature and character. He rode a corre- 
spondingly magnificent horse, which we always spoke of 


as his pony. He had a nice family estate, and was of 
a free, manly disposition, and I regarded his independence 
and simplicity with admiration. He had not the slightest 
idea of playing second fiddle to any swell in the field. 
On one occasion he pushed forward to get through 
a very clayey gateway at Cranoe in front of a great 
man with no regard to precedence. Lord Cardigan 
who was alongside, seeing this, said, " Vowe, Vowe, the 
Prince ! the Prince ! Make way ! " "I shan't," says 
Vowe in a loud voice. " I'll be bound the horse ain't his 
own. " Lord Cardigan has his good-humoured revenge not 
long after. Vowe took up politics for a while as a violent 
Protectionist, and attending a great local meeting of this 
party, he not only signed a petition to the House of 
Lords, but was persuaded to go to London and hand it 
to Lord Cardigan for presentation. Feeling the import- 
ance of this trust and the necessity of exchanging his 
country costume for one more in harmony with a political 
leader in London, he exchanged boots and breeches 
for trousers and black coat, into the pockets of which he 
contrived to stuff the important petition. The appoint- 
ment was made at the House of Lords, where, after some 
nervous waiting, Lord Cardigan at last appeared, and 
coming forward to shake hands, spied the bulge in Vowe's 
pocket, and before he could draw it forth, cried, " Hullo ! 
Vowe, what's that you've got in your pocket ? A pork 
pie, I'll be bound." In summer time we went into the 
cricket-field together, on the same side fortunately, for 
when batting, his aim was not as much to guard the 
stumps as to warn the wicket-keeper off any attempt 
on the bails. This he did by deliberately swinging his 
bat round in the plane of the wicket-keeper's head, forcing 
him to keep a respectful distance away. 


The interchange of humour between the jolly riding 
countryman and the polished man of the world was very 
amusing. I had two acquaintances in these respective 
positions, Mr. Topham and Major Whyte-Melville, both 
hunting with the Pytchley. At the beginning of the season 
the two met outside the cover, both in new coats. " How 
are you, Topham ? " says the Major. " New coat, I see." 
" Yes," says Topham ; " the same with you, Major, but 
still, a difference too." " How so ? " was the inquiry. 
" Well, in the cost, you see," says Topham. " Now, I 
study economy; so I buy enough cloth of the mercer, giving 
my last year's coat to a village needle-woman. She pulls 
it to pieces for pattern, and in a week's time brings me 
the coat I am in, and as good a coat, too, as any one need 
ride in. The cloth came to 30s. for cash, the making and 
lining to twelve two guineas in all. It is not quite so 
smart, perhaps, as yours, but Heaven only knows what 
yours cost you. Seven guineas, as likely as not." " Well," 
says the Major, " let us see. You paid cash for your cloth 
over the counter, and cash as well to the sempstress ; 
there went two guineas out of your purse. Well, the price 
of my coat was, may be, seven guineas or more ; but I 
have not paid them, and don't know that I ever shall, 
so I have the best of it at present." 

In the Atherstone I had the late Mr. Newdegate, of 
Arbury, for a friend, the beau ideal of a rather old- 
fashioned country gentleman, but somewhat unforgiving. 
There had been a slight difference between him and 
Lord Curzon, who was master of the Atherstone, about 
drawing the Arbury covers. There was nothing much 
in it, and Lord Curzon was the last man to let it 
rankle in his mind or keep him and Newdegate apart, 
so, as he told me, he took the opportunity in the 



hunting-field of opening a gate in a stiff hedge for 
him to pass through. Newdegate acknowledged the 
civility, hat off, with a stiff bow, declined the 
favour, and put his horse over the hedge by the 
gate-post at the risk of a serious fall. I had another 
friend, Anstruther Thomson, master of the Pytchley, 
when we first knew each other, and formerly of the Ather- 
stone. After the famous Waterloo run, he surprised us 
by turning up at the Harborough Ball before midnight, 
having first taken his hounds back to the kennels at 
Brixworth. Crinolines were then in fashion, and after 
dancing awhile in all the perils of the hoops, he said to 
me with his cheerful smile, " I tell you what, this is more 
dangerous than wire in the hedgerows." 

Another celebrity among my friends was Lucas, of Lut- 
terworth, the famous veterinary. He was, I believe, the 
son of a parson, but took to horses and hunting before he 
was out of his teens. He was devoted to cock-fighting, and 
would sit over a cup of tea detailing his experiences. 
Once, he said, a quiet parson pestered him to give him 
a game cock to run with his birds, so he rode one after- 
noon into the rectory yard with the bird in a bag under 
his arm, and asked for the rector, who was all excitement 
to see this beauty. The bird was carefully released on 
the pavement, whereupon, spying a small pig that had 
crept away from his mother, it flew at him in a moment, 
and, driving a spur into his eye, killed the suckling on 
the spot. The gallant bird went back to his old run. 
These pugnacious birds had to be kept far apart from 
each other, and that is the explanation of the small, 
well-built, square brick huts with door and lock that 
one still sometimes meets with in the grazing-grounds 
of Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire. In these, single 


warriors were isolated beyond the reach of cock-crow 
and challenge from any rival. 

Lucas was in great request in the training-stables, 
and entire reliance was placed in his opinion and 
treatment. On a summons he would ride off as- 
tonishing distances on professional visits. He was a 
thoroughly independent as well as dependable man, 
and those who did not understand his high character 
and put themselves, in a way, on guard against him 
in his practice were made to feel their mistake. He 
told me that when Brassey took a contract for the con- 
struction of a branch line from Rugby, he wrote 
asking him to take the veterinary charge of his 
horses standing at that place, of which there were about 
forty in the stable. He rode off at once and was soon 
on the spot. He walked quickly from horse to horse, 
as was his custom, with no pretence of occult science, 
but just going up to each animal's head, as if to say 
" Good morning." Having thus introduced himself to 
the whole string, he slipped into the office, and calling 
the horse-keeper in, shut the door. " Now," he said, 
" you will have to brand each horse's hoof with my 
numbers, first of all putting up close boarded partitions 
(stalls) between each pair. The first pair must be 
numbered 1 2, the next 3 4, and there must be 
a separate pail for the exclusive use of each pair. 
No time to be lost over this, and when you let me know 
that it is done, I will ride over again." The next letter 
that came was not from the horse-keeper, but from his 
employer the owner of the animals, written in an offended 
style " to remind Mr. Lucas that he engaged him as a 
veterinary surgeon, not to advise his man on stable 
management." Lucas wrote back that he knew perfectly 


what he was about, but as his advice was not of the 
nature Mr. Brassey anticipated, he trusted he would find 
some other more skilful person " to doctor the horses." 
The state of the case was this : Having just put his 
finger under the left jaw, and found the awful indication 
there of glanders, he was not going to advertise its 
presence by any inquiry or statement at the stables ; he 
wanted to stop, as far as he could, the spread of the 
calamity, and, had he continued in office, would have 
killed some, got others down coal-pits, and saved as 
far as it was possible the heavy losses that ensued. 

He had a practice of not sending in any account or 
making any charge for advice to those whom he 
regarded as acquaintances, and with whom as 
residents near Lutterworth he had for some time 
been associated ; but he was quick to perceive if an 
outsider coming down to hunt thought he could take 
advantage of this disposition. A friend of mine 
wrote to Lucas asking him to examine his horse in 
my stable. He came the next day, found nothing the 
matter, and at once posted an account for the visit with 
a request for its discharge. 

I remember a case in London where a dealer's 
warranty as to the eye-sight of a horse came in 
question. Two eminent " vets " differed in their opinion, 
one holding that the sight was sound, the other that 
it was imperfect. Neither would yield, and the matter 
was referred to Lucas for final settlement. He came 
to the dealer's yard in London, walked round to the 
horse's head, and ordered a halter to be put on, and an 
empty stable-bucket to be placed in the middle of the yard. 
Taking the halter in his hand, he led the animal in a 
direct line for the bucket. The horse went forward, 


and blundered over it with his fore legs. " Blind, 
without doubt," was the verdict, and blind, though not 
" stone blind," the creature was, as all bystanders could 

He disliked casting horses, and could perform some 
of the severest operations with the horse on its legs. 

Some of his friends who for years had benefited by his 
most valuable advice gratuitously, desiring to present 
him with some testimonial and acknowledgment of his 
kindness, raised a private fund for that purpose among 
themselves, in which, of course, I joined most heartily. 
Enough came in to warrant us in persuading him with 
some difficulty to sit for his portrait, and there was, I 
think, about 500 over. Then came a dinner at Lutter- 
worth, which the subscribers attended with Lucas as the 
guest. Some excellent punch and a short speech, I think 
(but I was not present), from a hunting parson was fol- 
lowed by unveiling the portrait of the good old gentleman 
with his high forehead and fine-cut features ; then the 
balance of the fund in gold was placed in a bag on the 
table by his glass, and with some more conviviality the 
meeting broke up ; and I was told that Lucas came away 
with others to the door, leaving the bag where it was 
on the table. One of the party reminded him that he 
had not taken up the gold. " Oh ! " says he, " that will 
do for the waiters." At his death I was consulted by 
others what steps should be taken about his estate and 
the debts due to it. We found that he had some near 
relations not over-well off, so decided to have his books 
examined and the debts got in for their benefit. 

The glanders got into the stables on one of the farms 
I rented, and after an ineffectual attempt to kill it out 
and disinfect the premises, he advised me to work the 


farm with oxen. So I got an introduction to a leading 
farmer in the Vale of Pewsey, who took me in for a few 
days that I might join in the ploughing and carting work 
on the farm, and master the method of dealing with the 
old English draft-beast, that had held his own, since Saxon 
times, in the county of Wilts. I was instructed also 
in the method of breaking them in to harness, and the 
proper way of making a sulky one who refuses to rise 
get upon his legs. All sorts of cruelties were frequently 
practised, such as twisting the tail to the dislocation 
of the joints, and burning straw under the body as it 
lay obstinate on the ground, though sometimes these 
proved ineffectual. The sure method and merciful, 
which I was taught, was to lie on the ground and shout 
in the animal's ear, taking care that you escaped harm 
yourself as he sprang up from the ground. I bought 
two pair of worked oxen and their harness in the vale 
and some younger beasts at a fair, and before long had 
eleven as good animals as one need have, for my business. 
If the beasts did not give me much trouble, my men 
did, thinking they were degraded by going to plough 
with " beasts." However, in time they came to see 
that, except in the very hottest weather, when their 
tongues came to hang out, they got through as much 
work and in as short a time as horses. I worked nothing 
but Devon cattle, " South Hams," and when I had done 
with them the graziers bought them for feeding. 
After a long life's experience in farming, I venture the 
opinion that in many parts of the country and under 
some circumstances the ox is preferable to the horse in 
the plough. 

The Midlands in the 'forties differed much from the 
Midlands of the twentieth century. " Squires, spires, and 

1800-1900 135 

mires " predominated. The spires remain ; the squires 
and the mires are features of the past. Some of the 
villages could not be reached by a metalled road, and 
at the beginning of the century, as a squire's old pocket- 
book tells me, the ladies brought the visits to their 
neighbours to an end at Old Michaelmas, by which 
time, too, the supply of winter coal had to be laid in, 
The turnpike roads were made and mended with lime- 
stone or gravel, put on in autumn and scraped off, as 
mud, in winter. The parish roads, where they were 
metalled, had in autumn after the harvest a coat of 
pebbles from the field laid on them ; the largest only of 
the pebbles were cracked with a stone-hammer, or, 
if soft sandstone was handy, that did instead which- 
ever, in fact, was the easier come at, and the cheaper. 
The oldest men were to be found engaged as roadmen, 
pottering over the work when not digging out rabbits 
or setting snares for them in the roadside hedges. The 
Elizabethan highways were 60 feet wide, with space for 
the wayfarer to pick his way dry-shod, and the carter 
his, without being stalled. The squire's coach-and-four 
was accompanied by his running footmen with poles 
to raise it out of any hole into which it might sink. 

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, as I 
see from the same old pocket-book, it was the squire's 
practice to go out of nights with the parish clerk and 
his setters to net partridges " jugging." The setter, 
procumbent, after pointing, allowed of the net being 
drawn over his body, and there is an entry of a 
woodcock being thus taken on one eventful night. 
Badgers abounded then, as they do now, near my North- 
amptonshire home, and the old brick pit-falls in which 
they were captured, constructed on the steep slopes in 


the plantation, are still to be seen. The common people 
hold that the badger's legs are longer on one side of 
his body than on the other, to suit his habit of running 
along the slopes of the hills. One of my men had also 
the belief that the beast has no breast-bone, and thus, 
if held up by his hind leg, cannot " turn in his skin." 
He and I one early morning tracked a badger dragging 
a trap through the dew for a mile or more. We came 
up to him at last, entangled in a whitethorn stump. 
I sent the man off for a sack, and on his return 
suggested his popping the badger in, while I held the sack 
mouth open. The innocent, relying on his anatomical 
convictions, extricated the badger and raised him 
aloft. In a moment the prisoner " turned in his skin," 
opened a mouth like a pair of shears glittering with teeth, 
which, just missing their aim, seemed to close with a snap 
like a man- trap. Another weary chase followed, but 
we always had him in view, and at last ran him down ; 
this time we both had due regard to his breast-bone, 
got the bag over him, and shook him down to the bottom. 
These creatures seem to have a fondness for young 
onions, for one spring my bed in the kitchen garden 
was visited nightly by some large animal, who rolled on 
the little plants. At last I spotted the spoor in the fine 
mould, and put netting round the bed to save the crops. 
A friend of mine in the Midlands, in Leicester Forest, 
had got on quite familiar terms with the badgers. 
His lovely garden of several acres was surrounded by 
iron fencing. Just outside this, under the wide branches 
of an old yew, surrounded with scrub and underwood, 
the badgers had got a capacious earth ; here they con- 
cealed themselve" during daylight, but in the long 
summer evenings they came forth stealthily in the gloam- 


ing. We went with our pockets full of dates, and throwing 
a handful towards the stronghold, a few white streaks 
appeared, the rest of the body being quite invisible ; 
then the warm evening stillness was broken by the 
cracking of the date-stones within 6 feet of us, which 
continued as long as we kept up the supply. In the 
middle of the garden a crag of slate was thrust up like 
a miniature Matterhorn. The escarpment was bare 
of vegetation, but the slope was coated with short ling 
and abundant moss. Up this slope the badgers would 
climb to the very summit, and then, backing down, 
would tear out bunches of moss and soft ling with their 
bear-like claws, rolling the mass up under their bellies 
till, the pack being made, they seized it in their wide 
jaws and carried it off to their earth. The accumulation 

here was so large that at one time a quantity filling 


the body of a farm wagon was removed. One some- 
times sees in summer time ant-hills which have been 
torn open, and my belief is that this is the work of badgers 
in quest of ants' eggs. No other British animal has 
limbs and nails powerful enough for this operation. It 
is extraordinary how secret these creatures are. Their 
movements are so stealthy, and are made only at night, 
when the dark colour of their coats becomes the more 
indistinguishable by reason of the white streaks in 
their faces. Lord Stamford's great woods adjoining 
the earths of which I speak are, no doubt, well peopled 
with badgers, but his night-watchers and keepers say 
they never meet with one in their quietest patrols. 

The otter is another singularly secret animal, and so 
his presence is never suspected in a neighbourhood at 
a distance from quiet rivers and mountain streams, 
where he leaves proofs of his poaching by the water-side 


in a fish with a choice bit of his shoulders bitten out. 
Yet I have myself known an otter come up the dirty 
water of a channel, half canal, half drain, into the heart 
of Northampton, and wander on along the railway to the 
gashouse. Here he was overtaken by an engine, whose 
wheel went over his shoulder, and so injured him that 
he was captured and killed. 

An otter is a delightfully amusing pet, and extremely 
inquisitive ; when indoors he pries into every room, 
upstairs and downstairs, but has, as a famous sports- 
woman says, a bad habit of getting up early in the 
morning, having a bath, if there is one in the room 
handy, then going up a chimney and returning to get 
into bed with her mistress. My friend Sir John Lawes, 
as great a man in sport as in science, had a pair of 
these animals at Rothamsted. They retired by day 
to a small pool in the park. It was his custom at 
one time to drive some miles to the railway-station 
at St. Albans, taking the train there for London. 
On his return he never failed to bring back a " bass " 
of fresh fish for the otters. As the carriage entered 
the park on the way back to the Hall, the creatures, 
unmoved by any other traffic, recognised the paces 
of their master's horses, and coming out of their retreat 
in haste across the grass, ran ahead of the carriage, 
jumping up like dogs at the horses' noses till they reached 
the Hall, when, the basket being emptied before them, 
they hurried back with their present. Sir John took 
them up with him to his forest in Scotland, where the 
pair enjoyed the forest as much as he did, taking them- 
selves off in the evening on fishing excursions in wild 
Highland waters, to return without fail before daylight. 
A wretch of a gillie killed the female, whereupon the 


disconsolate mate became irregular in his habits, staying 
out at first for one night, then for two or three, then 
a week, and finally never came back at all ; probably 
lured away by the enchantments of some wild jade with 
whom he set up poaching and housekeeping. When 
staying near Exmouth as a boy, I found the otters 
frequenting the seaside, their strongholds being far 
back between the horizontal slabs of the red rock, where 
a soft vein had been washed away and left the harder 
stratum overhanging a space just wide enough for the 
otters' entrance. Often of a morning have I found there 
the remains of their night's catch of fish. But I am 
getting ahead in my memories and notes. 

The otters (except the Exmouth ones) and the badgers 
came in my way only in middle age, as did the sweet- 
marten, the lively little tree-loving bird-catcher of the 
Lake District, the only place where I have met with it, 
and even there it is extinct by now, I fear. The foumart 
(foulmart), even then rare in our Middlesex wood, the 
weasel, the stoat, and the hedgehog were other animals 
whose personal acquaintance I made as a boy, and whose 
manners and customs I was never tired of watching. 

In the mid 'forties I married, dressed in puce-coloured 
kerseymere trousers, straps and Wellington boots, an 
embroidered satin waistcoat, a blue dress-coat, and 
brass buttons, and I was not mobbed ! * For some months 
we made our home near Ely in the fen-country, where 
I settled down seriously to farming as a business. There 

* Mr. Pell married Elizabeth Barbara, only daughter of Sir Henry 
Halford, Bart., of Wistow Hall, Leicestershire. In her own way Mrs. 
Pell was quite as original and remarkable as her husband, and had 
the same capacity for endearing herself to her friends. She was a 
keen and capable farmer, and managed his farms for him while he was 


was no Board of Agriculture, but there was genius enough 
engaged or interested in the industry to help it along. 
Lawes had been studying chemistry in Paris, Caird was 
writing a series of invaluable articles in The Times. 
Smith, of Deanston, had taught the sound method of 
under-draining. Pusey, both in and out of Parliament, 
was influencing the landowners. Huxtable, the optimist 
in Holy Orders, was preaching the gospel of turnips and 
guano. Spencer, Knightley, Bates and Booth, and Torr 
among the short-horns, and Webb and Ellman and the 
Duke of Richmond among sheep, were names to conjure 
with. " The Chronicles of a Clay Farm," by " Talpa " 
(Wren Hoskyns), animated the owners and cultivators 
of heavy land, and charmed them into adopting modern 
though expensive improvements. Labour was cheap, 
and the farm hand went far afield for employment. 

In the fen-country and in the non-residential districts 
of England the labouring class was fairly distributed ; 

busy in Parliament. A friend remarked to her one day that Mr. Pell 
was a courageous man. " Yes, " she replied, " that is why I married 
him " ; and he, for his part, had a similar admiration for her high 
spirit and independent judgment. One who knew her intimately 
writes, " She was as well-read a woman as ever I met, and her judgment 
of men and things was extraordinarily good. Her husband owed 
much of his success to her, and was saved from many mistakes in public 
and private life by deferring to her opinion." She adopted the homely 
ways of a farmer's wife, and went little into society ; but her wide reading 
and interests prevented her from ever being narrow minded. One 
who proved and appreciated her friendship writes of her, " In some 
ways there seemed a curious hardness about her, she hated and dis- 
couraged tears, but she could on occasion give the best and wisest 
advice, and inspired the courage and fortitude which she herself 
practised. " 

The epitaph which Mr. Pell wrote in her memory sets out with much 
felicity the principal traits in her character (see Introduction), and is a 
more adequate tribute to her virtues than anything which can here be 
written. Mrs. Pell died on January 16, 1894. 


but in the Midlands, with its large estates and " close " 
parishes, with perhaps one man exclusively owning two 
or more villages, a different state of things prevailed. 
There the policy of the landlord or his agent was to 
banish the labourer's family from the fields on which 
he toiled, and to leave him to find his roof-tree in the 
adjoining " open " parish, where he had to dwell as 
best he could on little encroachments on the waysides 
or in the congested huts of the village. The accursed 
Law of Settlement and the Poor Laws then in force were 
responsible for this policy. The fear of the poor rate, 
when the cost of each pauper's maintenance was charged 
to the parish in which he lived, and not, as now, on 
the union, entirely obliterated the sense of duty to one's 

The hours of farm labour were from six to six. 
Coming and going was taken out of the labourer's 
time, not the master's, and a tramp of two, three, or 
even four miles from home in the morning, and the 
same back in the evening, was an every-day occurrence, 
and regarded as a matter of course. The little boy 
trotted all this way by the side of his father, to lay 
out pipes or drain-tiles, to spud or hoe weeds, and to 
scare birds. No statute restricted or regulated the 
hours of the child's work on the farm, and when in after- 
life I drafted and carried the first Act of Parliament 
framed to spare the little limbs, I did it at the risk of 
my seat. I remember particularly the indignant remon- 
strances of a neighbouring squire, a most kind friend 
and active political supporter, the father of a family 
of about ten children, on whom he doted, and whose 
happiness and health were his constant care. I asked 
him how he would tolerate his boys of eight to ten years 


of age driving plough on a heavy clay fallow. Did he 
know what it meant ? I thought not. If we suppose 
that the conventional acre was ploughed between six 
and two o'clock, the child would have to walk in 
the blazing sun on a baked soil, or, in wet times, 
clogged with clay on his feet, from eleven to twelve 
miles a day (including, say, a mile's trudge from 
home and a mile back again), directing the movement 
and stimulating the actions of three, perhaps four, 
monstrous creatures, who submitted to his presumptuous 
orders and infantile oaths with slavish docility and 
soft mild eyes. It was a marvellous sight to see these 
little dots get a collar on the necks of the plough- 
teams. First they reached it down from the bracket 
overhead with a hay-fork, then they hoisted it into the 
manger, then they scrambled after it themselves, then, 
drawing the huge animal's head towards them, with 
much exhortation "to be quiet " and " now then, what 
are you at ? " they lifted the heavy harness over the 
head and ears on to the neck, and jumped down for 
the hames. All this was carried out with a very jaunty 
ah- of superiority to the other little chaps waiting at 
the yard-gates for the ganger to take them to the mono- 
tonous toil of stone-picking, pulling charlock, or, worse 
than all, bird-scaring. 

An old labourer, a faithful but rough servant, who 
began money-making as a navvy at Kilsby Tunnel, 
used to describe to me how at six years of age he 
was turned out as soon as the birds were up, to scare 
them from the crops ; how he went afield with no 
bread, no meat, in his canvas bag, but day on and 
day off with a dumpling made of boiled barley-meal 
(not oatmeal) and peas. Sometimes father would come 


across a rabbit or, better still, a hare, and a bit of that 
and the gravy was first-rate. When I went to his cottage 
to engage him, I was cautioned against employing such 
a ruffian. He had just given up the " tip and the tunnel " 
and the home in the contractor's bothies or beer-houses, 
and had put up a shelter for himself, wife, and child on 
the top of the Kilsby Tunnel. He saw the first ground 
broken there, and he did not come away till the last 
brick was laid. He let the bricks down the shaft by 
contract, the gearing for this being kept in motion by 
horse-power. Somehow or another, he was licensed 
to sell beer from the barrel at the shaft. His wife tapped 
and drew it, and did washing for navvies' Sunday wear. 
The little boy, only five years old, fetched and returned 
the change-horses for the winding gear. He rode them 
to and fro, balancing himself on the withers of the horse, 
his two tiny legs sticking out horizontally and his fingers 
clutching the long, handsome mane of the horse. At this 
feat he earned 4s. a week, and the family came away with 
over 200 in their pockets. The father added another 
hundred to this at the next tunnel somewhere in the 
North ; and then, in the third tunnel, he worked with a 
" butty " who contrived to clean him out of all his capital. 
So home he, the wife, the boy, and a little daughter came 
to " his parish," where I heard of him as a neighbour, 
renowned for great muscular strength, an unlimited 
capacity for absorbing beer, with a preference for heavy 
jobs among builders, well-sinkers, and timber-men. 
Farming work was not to his mind the pay did not 
suit him ; but he was said to be fond of his garden, could 
snare a rabbit and milk a cow. The wife was a very 
pretty little woman, and attracted much attention. 
When I went with my wife to look him up, he was so 


shy that he clambered up to his bed-loft and concealed 
himself, nor would he reveal himself, so I left my wife 
to talk matters over with his, and a bargain was struck 
between them for " the terror " to come and see what 
he could do. He came, and stayed till death parted 
us years afterwards. His main failing was drinking. 
I tried hard to cure him, but in vain. Once I pointed 
out to him how bread was praised as the " staff of life," 
how we were bid to pray for our daily bread, and not 
for beer, and so on, and how I wished he would spend 
more on the " staff of life " and less on liquor. I had 
better have left the moralising alone, for he turned on 
me, like Gladstone, with, " Look here, you may call 
bread the staff of life, but I tell 'ee beer's life itself." 
Of course he could neither read, write, nor " sum up," 
but he could sink a well, drive a headway below ground, 
mow, reap, thatch, fell a tree, mend his own boots (like 
George Stephenson), manage potatoes, cultivate a kitchen 
garden, and grow carnations. Overtime was nothing 
to him ; fortified with tots of beer he never wearied, 
and worked away in the harvest moon as if it was high 
noon. This was before the days of field machinery. 
Without such men the great English crops could never 
have been gathered and saved, nor even then, had not 
Ireland come to help. The Irishmen, however, were 
masters of only one tool, the sickle, not the hook nor 
the scythe, and were positively dangerous when using a 
fork. They were quarrelsome and insubordinate. The 
English nicknamed them " Mickies," and declared that 
heaven would not be heaven if the Mickies were in it. 
The Mickies all desired to be locked up at night, safe from 
the English, and would very often ask the same favour 
when a strange Irish gang was engaged. It was fatal 


to enter into conversation with them. If you did, they 
became familiar and importunate, and as they were 
without any exception unreasonable, cunning, and 
witty, a civil tongue was thrown away upon them. 
Their last employment before haytime, they always 
asserted, was in Lancashire, " shaking gwarner [guano] 
on the pertaters." The men from the far west were the 
best harvesters, and if you paid them well, locked them 
up as they desired, and made cooking convenient for 
them on Sundays, the same gang would come again, 
sometimes promising their services by post. As the 
machines came in and the scythe took the place of 
the sickle, the Irish immigration dwindled away, and 
the whirr of the gearing supplanted the Celtic chatter. 
Like Tennyson's rain, theirs was a " useful trouble." 
When their entire absence became a fact, and no ragged 
fellow was to be seen with his arms and sickle hanging 
over the gate of the wheat-field, I, for one, felt the loss 
with a certain amount of sadness. It was as if death 
had visited the hurry of the harvest and removed the 
noisy actors from the rural stage. An American lady, 
a slave owner on the border of the southern states, 
whom I visited, described her feelings when, as the 
northern army drew nearer day after day, the old 
negro hands failed to return at night, " it was," she said, 
" as though there had been a funeral" ; and distress at 
her wrecked fortune as an owner and mistress could 
not annul the sort of family affection that had grown 
up between her and the slave. 

With the year 1847 came the great Irish famine. Sub- 
division of the land and over-population had been for 
some years concurrent, fostered and encouraged by the 
cultivation of one plant as the main means of subsistence ; 


146 1847-8 

when almost without notice, disease, once and for all, 
as good as destroyed the whole crop. Not in Ireland 
only, but in the western islands and Highlands of Scotland, 
the potato putrified, and the people perished by scores, 
by hundreds, by thousands, and tens of thousands. 
Prayers, fasts, relief works, meal, and money were of 
little avail. After it was over, I stood in one graveyard 
in County Clare, under which 2,000 of the starved parish- 
ioners lay. It is a most distressful country, and the ways 
of its inhabitants are not much advanced beyond those 
of the Tierra del Fuegans and the Digger Indians. The 
aboriginal Celt lives (with his pigs) in the rudest of 
huts, subsists on roots which he digs out of the ground, 
and looks up with superstitious reverence to his ignorant 
priests or medicine-men. He wants energy for steady 
industry. He will not even catch the fish that swarm 
in the seas surrounding him. Blind to experience, he 
continues to plant a foreign root, the origin and cause 
of famine and death. Still, with all this horrible warning, 
the philanthropist and politician think it expedient and 
humane to provide him with seed potatoes for his de- 

As I have said, the famine came in 1847. It was met 
by a fast day on March 26, and a continuance of potato 
planting. On May 6 I sold wheat at ninety shillings 
the quarter ; and on June 1 1 the presence of the potato 
disease in Ireland was announced. The Angel of Death 
was descending on that over-peopled country ; in less 
than a year from that day the miserable existence of 
thousands on thousands of its inhabitants had ended 
in the pining and suffering of famine and disease. In 
the Highlands and western islands of Scotland matters 
were as bad. In Skye the season had been a fine one, 


and even there the oats were plump and ripened well. 
A religious contest, however, animated the people at 
harvest-time, and the dominant Church faction, to prove 
its paramount authority, proclaimed a fast, calling the 
unco' godly from secular duties to religious observances 
for one whole week. Then it was that, as in the bright 
autumn sunshine one drove along the excellent main 
roads in the still and sultry air, and the vibration from 
the passing vehicles reached the bordering strips of grain, 
the over-ripe food of the people dropped grain after grain 
silently and wastefully to the ground, beyond the reach 
of penitence and prayer to restore it. So the meal being 
lost, philanthropy had to fetch maize from over the 
Atlantic. The human being went out and the sheep 
came in. Meanwhile England was alarmed by the 
activity of the Chartists, who naturally availed them- 
selves of the opportunities given to them by famine and 
want of work for organised agitation, culminating in the 
demonstration on April 10, 1848, some particulars as 
to this which came under my own observation I propose 
to give in the next chapter. 



THE incidents narrated in the last chapter have led me 
on to anticipate events, for before settling in the Midlands, 
I had after my marriage spent some months off and on 
with my wife in London. We were there in the winter 
of 1847 and 1848. Those were the days of European 
revolutions and political troubles ; in England these 
took the shape of the Chartist riots, with the demon- 
strations threatened against the Houses of Parliament 
and timed to come off on April 10. 

The Government acted with great good sense and 
firmness, calling on civilians to enroll themselves as 
special constables and consulting the Duke of Wellington 
on military precautions. I was sworn in at Maryborough 
Street Police Court, and shared the Testament with a 
very black coal-heaver ; his hand held one end of the 
book, mine the other. My cousin was also sworn in, 
and so was Louis Napoleon, with whom he was put on to 
patrol Conduit Street. My cousin was singularly like 
Louis, and as he spoke French fluently, they were a well- 
matched pair. I, with a greengrocer, patrolled the 
Hampstead Road near the Mother Redcap. Sir James 
Bathurst, an old Peninsular officer, was a friend and 
had a good house in town. The Duke had entrusted 
part of the operations to his hands, and as the demon- 
stration was to come off on Monday, I called on Sir 
James on Sunday afternoon, and found him in the dining- 



room with several officers round him and the table covered 
with maps. No doubt I was in the way, for he asked me 
if I would like to see what preparations were made against 
the morrow, and if so, did I know Belvedere Wharf, near 
the south end of Westminster Bridge. He seemed struck 
when I said, "Very well indeed" ; for it so happened 
that this was the wharf and yard of a famous builder, 
Myers, who had built under Pugin's direction a country 
house for my mother. (He also built the King's Cross 
Station for the Great Northern Railway. He was Irish, 
and had begun life, I think, as a bricklayer's hodman. 
Pugin rightly put great trust in him, and he carried out 
a great amount of building for him, each understanding 
and trusting the other.) So I took a cab and went off 
to Westminster Bridge. I found the folding doors 
closing the entrance to the wharf shut, and had to kick 
them for some time before any notice was taken ; at 
last a manager came and with great care partially opened 
one, which was still safeguarded by a chain. On my 
telling him who I was and that I came from Sir James 
Bathurst, he admitted me and at once barred the gates 
again. As soon as I was inside, I was struck with the 
clearance that had been made in the yard of builder's 
material and machinery. In their place there stood 
six pieces of artillery wth the muzzles directed towards 
Westminster Bridge and concealed from outside view 
by some hoarding. On my asking Sir James when 
the military were to come into action, he replied that 
the Duke's orders were, " Not so long as a single special 
constable is alive and on his legs." However, there 
was no gunpowder burnt nor coffins for " specials " ; the 
whole demonstration of the " masses " evaporated. The 
bayonets were then on the side of property and order. 


There was at this time a great revival among Church- 
people, who had at length been brought to recognise the 
state of long-continued lethargy which had permitted the 
disgraceful neglect of things material as well as spiritual ; 
the days of churchwardens' whitewash were drawing to 
a close. The building of the new palace at Westminster 
was nearly completed. The art " boilers " at South 
Kensington, where King Cole reigned supreme, stirred 
the artistic taste, and as Free Trade had brought down 
the price of all building material, stone, timber, bricks, 
glass, and other trade goods, it was natural that such 
public buildings as our Churches should become objects 
of artistic interest. The elder Pugin and Gilbert Scott 
were in full vigour and were looked up to as safe guides 
in restorations and rebuildings. Minton was burning en- 
caustic tiles of early patterns, and carpenters and carvers 
were taking lessons from Flemish work. Conservative 
feeling was controlling restorations, and much that would 
have been carted away or used for firewood in the past 
was now religiously preserved and kept in its place. This 
material progress, and study of the art of past centuries, 
were accompanied by a spiritual attraction toward old 
or obsolete ritual of a more ornate character adopted 
by the Puseyites, to whom the Church of England and 
the country are indebted for this vigorous renaissance. 
Their modest practices shocked and alarmed the slovenly 
Puritans and the Low Church and roused the temper of 
the people in the streets into denunciations of what they 
termed Popish practices. 

Among my friends I then numbered the late Dr. Bryan 
King, Rector of St. George-in-the-East, whose conduct in 
that God-forsaken district was constantly the subject 
of newspaper paragraphs, and the criticism of a public 


which knew very little of the real circumstances of the 
case. No doubt the rector's views were not understood 
by his people and did not harmonise with their religious 
ideas, where they had any ; but what really fomented 
discord and led to disgraceful outbreaks was the old 
Puritan statutable establishment of a " preacher," 
elected by the parishioners to preach (and to preach 
only) at a given hour in the pulpit of the parish church. 
Naturally the dissentients elected a parson with views 
diametrically opposed to those of the High Church 
rector, who officiated in an empty church, while the 
preacher filled his pews with a plentiful congregation 
nursing their wrath to keep it warm under the stimulating 
eloquence of an orator of their own choosing. Things 
went from bad to worse, and there was some appre- 
hension of personal violence being offered to the rector. 
I was asked on more than one occasion to attend his 
services as a representative of respectability and order, 
to which I acceded when it was possible for me to do so ; 
but I always found the church quiet, indeed too quiet. 
It was a large church, with capacious galleries on either 
side, connected at the west end by the organ-loft, which 
faced the chancel. I cannot remember any screen to 
the chancel ; there was a surpliced choir, which, with the 
exception of myself, solitary in a pew, constituted the 
whole of the congregation, unless, as on one occasion, 
a parrot that had escaped from Jamrach's was to count. 
There was a brilliant beadle too, but he was not devotional, 
and represented secular authority. A very wide cornice 
ran around the interior of the church high up above the 
windows at the back of the galleries. At the south- 
eastern extremity of this cornice next the chancel, and 
immediately above the pulpit, Pretty Poll had stationed 


herself, and when the intoning commenced, she uttered 
most discordant responses and seemed determined to 
attract attention. In this she succeeded, for the beadle, 
carrying a rod about twelve feet long, was heard to go 
up the gallery stairs and proceed along the passage. 
The colouring of the bird and the beadle's uniform har- 
monised entirely, the former being evidently much 
impressed by the livery of the latter. Then a most 
amusing exhibition began. The beadle stretched up his 
rod and poked Poll's breast to set her in motion ; then 
he judiciously urged her by little pushes with the point 
towards the organ-loft. This required skill, judgment, and 
time, for Poll would only move in the " toe-over-toe " 
parrot fashion, a few inches at every touch. Any 
attempt to hasten her progress caused a discordant 
exclamation. I got rather uneasy, for the language of 
parrots picked up in Ratcliff Highway is not decent, 
and I was prepared any moment for a solemn request 
from the bird to the beadle to " go to hell." She held 
her tongue, however, and at last was coaxed and poked 
round the corner and behind the organ, where I fancied 
she might have to give in and be captured, after drawing 
her persecutor's blood. Not so, for in a few minutes 
Poll appeared again on a return trip, followed by the 
wand ; but when she had got half-way back towards 
the pulpit, the beadle, whose arms must have ached, gave 
in, and he beat a retreat, followed by a close examination 
of his discomforted person by Poll, with her head turned 
at an angle to bring one grey eye into full play on 
it. Then the service died out, and I left my pew for 
that day. 

As years went on, Dr. King resigned his living for 
another in the country, but before he left, a licensed 


chapel in the parish was consecrated as a church and 
a district allotted to it. The rector announced his 
intention of being present, and going in the procession 
to the building with the Bishop. Again a serious 
attack was feared, under the guidance of a quack, one 
Williams. Over forty policemen were requisitioned to 
meet the attack. I was again present, and admired the 
cool courage of the rector, who, walking apart from the 
police, in touch with the mob, made his way in manly 
and dignified style to the consecration. Meanwhile 
Williams, who was a German or spoke German, never 
turned up. His absence was accounted for by an early 
visit from a patient, ostensibly a German, who called on 
him for advice, being a sufferer from a complaint that 
the faculty could make nothing of. He sat in the 
patient's chair, showed his tongue, offered his pulse, 
gave a lengthy description of his illness and suffering, 
taking so much time over it that the doctor at last, 
looking at his watch, said he must leave to keep an 
appointment on business. " So," said the detective, 
"I have also an appointment to keep, but I need not 
leave the house unless you wish it, for I come from 
Scotland Yard, with orders not to lose sight of you all 

As my family had been owners of property near the 
docks for over a hundred years, I was brought into 
touch with East London life and its interests. A new 
church was to be built St. Peter's, in Old Gravel 
Lane, better known as St. Peter's, London Docks and 
when a fund for this object was being raised, in spite 
of warnings at the prospect of extreme High Church 
and almost, if not quite, Romish practices, I thought 
there was plenty of room and work then for an extreme 


ritualist, and I made a small contribution. Years 
afterwards, at the request of two clerical friends, I let 
them accompany me to a meeting of the Board of 
Guardians at the back of the church. Hearing an 
organ, they asked to be taken to the service, so, without 
my hat, I took them round into the gravel enclosure 
in which St. Peter's stood. Here we were met by a 
black-robed sacristan appearing at a side door, the 
handle to which he held in his hand, and told us that 
we could not enter, nor would he give us information 
as to the service going on inside. At last one of my 
companions said, "Is it a retreat ? " upon which at 
once the reply came, " You can go in," and opening the 
door, he gave them admission and at once pulled it to. 
I was a stranger to him, but I ventured to tell him that 
I had contributed 6 to the building fund, which I thought 
would just about pay for the door he had shut in my 
face. It appeared that an intercessory service for 
Macconochie was in progress within. 

I was constantly asked by friends and acquaintances to 
be allowed to accompany me to see some of the supposed 
horrors and iniquities of the district. To this I seldom 
assented. On one occasion, however, a very smart member 
of the House of Lords, an early and zealous supporter of 
the Charity Organisation Society (Lord Lichfield), made 
the request, and as I was going there the next day, I 
said he might come with me by all means if the time 
suited him, and I decided to pay a visit to Mr. Jackson, 
the lay missionary, in Wellclose Square. He was at 
home, opened the door himself, and invited us into a 
room with a sanded floor, bare walls, two or three Windsor 
chairs, and a deal table with a Bible on it. I introduced 
my friend. The only occupant of the room was a young 


fellow poorly dressed, with unattractive features, seated 
bolt upright in one of the chairs against the wall. With- 
out any preliminaries, Jackson, going up to my lord, 
said civilly in a persuasive voice, " I am certain your 
lordship will not object to pray for Henry," and at 
once went on his knees ; I did the same ; the noble lord, 
without hesitation, followed our example, but not before 
he had spread his white pocket-handkerchief on the 
sandy floor to kneel on. It was a November afternoon, 
and a small gas-burner hanging from the centre of the 
low ceiling dimly lighted a curious scene : a peer of 
the realm, a St. George's East land- and house-owner, 
a sailors' lay missionary, and a professional thief all 
on their knees together with their faces over the table. 
Jackson's intercessions were very homely, but hearty, 
and entirely devoid of " rant." A few days afterwards 
I called to ask him about Henry. "Oh ! " he said, " our 
prayers were heard, for I was able to send him to sea 
the next morning with a pious captain." 

I had many talks with Lord Lichfield, and among his 
experiences one is quite worth recording. He told me that 
one morning as he was sitting alone in the dining-room 
after breakfast, a ring came at the front door, whereupon 
the footman came in to say that there was a lady at 
the door who wished to see her ladyship upon a matter 
of some assistance. He was desired to say that her 
ladyship was unwell and not down, but that his master 
was better able to hear what the lady had to say, and 
he directed her to be shown into the dining-room. Here, 
when she was seated, Lord Lichfield told her that he 
made a point of himself going thoroughly into the facts 
whenever an application for assistance in distress was 
made to his wife or him, and that if she did not object 


she might make him acquainted with them without 
reservation or colouring. The lady at once assented. 
She was extremely well (quietly though expensively) 
dressed, and told her story in a very clear and connected 
way. She had been governess to Grisi's children, and 
had, of course, accompanied her on the Continent. At 
Vienna and again at St. Petersburg she had made a 
disreputable acquaintance with two men of good birth. 
She was, in fact, a woman with a history. At last she 
parted from Grisi, and had the world before her in which 
to seek her living. Lord Lichfield observed that she 
must be a gifted musician to have filled the place she 
did in Grisi's establishment. " Yes," she said, " of 
course I am, and for a little time I tried giving lessons ; 
but I felt above it, and it was too dull for me. So I 
took to begging : it paid better, but the income was 
uncertain. Five clergymen have taken my case up, 
and advocated it in fashionable circles. They got a 
fair lot of money together, but it was uncertain. One 
year they brought me in over 700, sometimes 500, 
sometimes only 300. There was no certainty, and 
at the best it never seemed enough. I had to have 
occasional interviews, too, with my patronesses, and 
they annoyed me with serious advice and the gift of 
tracts, from which I derived no ease or comfort." "Well," 
asked Lord Lichfield, " after all this experience, what 
do you think of the five clergymen ? " Upon which 
the lady jumped out of her chair, and stepped angrily 
up to Lord Lichfield. Throwing up her veil, she thrust 
her passionate face into his, and exclaimed, " My lord, 
I hate them like hell ! " Then she seated herself again, 
and his lordship asked her, " Why so ? " " Because," 
she said, " there was no certainty. I felt, too, I was 


part of an exhibition and the best was not being done 
with me. If, instead of these wretched, unsatisfying 
hundreds, they had got me a round sum of, say, 2,000, 
I might have left the country with this capital, married, 
and found a home for life." A true instance of the in- 
efficacy of philanthropic driblets, even when the driblets, 
as in this case, are substantial. 

Another case of philanthropic bounty that came 
under my notice is worth mentioning, though the object 
here was in a position very different from that of Grisi's 
governess. A wretched jade in Trafalgar Square begged 
of a young, well-dressed gentleman. He was fortunately 
one of the right sort, and promptly told her she was 
begging of quite the wrong person for her purpose, as 
he never helped unless he was well acquainted with 
the life and circumstances of the applicant, and she 
had better go away at once, or she might get into trouble. 
The woman, however, persisted, almost on her knees, 
and played her part well, insisting that if he only would 
inquire into her sad case, she felt sure he would pity 
her. He began to yield, but keeping his rule in view, 
asked her where she lived. She told him at Islington, 
and that her husband was lying dead there on their 
only bed, with her two children starving by his side. 
Giving way further, he inquired the street, and calling 
a cab, told the drab to get in and the driver to go to the 
address she named. In time they arrived at a miserable 
passage, up which they went after dismissing the cab ; 
he was taken upstairs to a filthy room with no fire, in 
which were two half-clothed, half-naked children, with 
eyes preternaturally large from starvation, and with 
their little limbs of about the substance of tobacco- 
pipes. There was something on the bed under a sheet, 


the sheet lifted at the bottom by the two stiff feet, and 
the head covered over at the other end on a pillow. 
He put his hand under, and found it cold ; the woman 
meanwhile stood by with an air of anxiety and expecta- 
tion. He took out a sovereign, gave it to her, and, 
after pointing out the cruelty of not having applied 
to the parish officers for food and maintenance, told 
her the gift would buy food for the present and a coffin, 
and to lose no time in getting both in at once. As he 
walked away after leaving the passage, he fell in with 
a policeman, whom he addressed, and said he would 
gladly give him a trifle if he would undertake to see 
the relieving officer, and call his attention to a terrible 
case of distress in a passage not far off. The constable 
took out his note-book and pencil, and began to take 
down the particulars, but stopping short and putting 
his pencil back, said, " Oh ! I know that case perfectly 
well. I fancy the woman bought the body yesterday, 
and I know she hires the children as a show ; but she 
takes care not to beg on my beat." Now, had not the 
donor fallen in with the constable, he would have re- 
turned unconscious of having been duped. The moral 
is, he should have done his duty in Trafalgar Square, 
and given the woman into custody for begging, instead 
of journeying to Islington to be tricked, consulting the 
constable only when it was too late. 

For a winter I was in London near the Zoological 
Gardens, where my wife and I were frequent visitors, 
both being lovers of birds and beasts, particularly of the 
squirrel tribe, of which at home we kept several favourites. 
Of these, English or foreign, none were more engaging than 
the little flying squirrel. They slept all day in a chip 
box containing the best bonnet, a thing of joy and beauty 


from Mrs. Brown in Bond Street. It had been an effort 
to acquire and pay for it, but there it was, a charming 
acquisition lying by on a high shelf waiting for a bright 
and calm day to reveal its attractions. When the 
reading-lamp came, we watched the light lid of the box 
begin to quiver, and then, yielding to the pressure from 
within, open slightly to allow a charming little soft 
head with the eyes of Juno to appear. After a moment's 
survey, two tiny feet clutched the edge of the box, 
and then the little glossy body was propelled forward 
and came fluttering on its membranes down through 
the air on to one of our shoulders. Two companions fol- 
lowed, and the little group began their games. At last 
the bright day came, a Sunday. The maid was desired 
to bring down the bonnet-box, and to have a work- 
basket ready for the removal of the sleeping beauties. 
I was present, and I never shall forget her horrified 
exclamation of "Oh my ! " when the lid was taken off. 
There was no bonnet, but on one side was an artistic 
heap of coloured fragments, with a circular hole in it 
forming the squirrels' dormitory. They were not dis- 
turbed, but replaced as before on the high shelf, for 
my wife said it did not matter, as it had made them 

We bought three call-ducks of Bailey, in Mount 
Street " Old Bailey," as we called him, for there was 
a son who succeeded to that admirable business. Some- 
how or another, they escaped from their basket, and they 
were soon up in the air having a look round, as ducks do. 
We were much distressed, as night was coming on and 
the street lamps were alight. We held a council, our- 
selves and the two Baileys, who suggested the Zoo- 
logical Gardens. The next morning I was there in good 


time, and, to my delight, could distinguish the loquacity 
of the call-birds, rising above the menagerie noises. I 
found them in the water, with quite a little court of 
wild-fowl about them. The newcomers were evidently 
considered to be excellent lively company. There was 
no difficulty in retaking them, and from Euston Station 
they were sent off at once to the country. 

There was greater difficulty over another recovery. We 
had, among other dogs, a most lovely Skye terrier, rough, 
of a drab colour, with two black eyes like pickled walnuts 
under his shaggy eyebrows. A friend's servant, contrary 
to orders, took him for a walk with the children, and, of 
course, such a gem was gone in no time. She came back 
to tell her master that Dick had strayed. He told her, 
while dogs in the country strayed, in London they were 
stolen. He came to me, almost with tears in his eyes, 
to announce the dreadful news, and declared his resolution 
of devoting his life to Dick's recovery. He was a friend 
of the Chief Commissioner of Police in Scotland Yard, 
while I was intimate with " The Bishop of Bond Street," 
Westley-Richards ' manager, whose animosity to dog- 
stealers and activity in promoting legislation for their 
discomfiture were well known. I think he knew as much 
or more about the fraternity than was known in Scotland 
Yard. Anyhow, in time tidings came of Dicky, in the 
fortuitous possession of a nameless gentleman in Shore- 
ditch. A high price was named for his ransom, so high as 
to cause remonstrance. A go-between then appeared 
on the scene, who insisted that Dicky could not be " got 
back honest " for less than 5 to be paid to his custodian, 
the transfer to be effected in a certain low public-house 
in an equally low street hi the most disreputable part 
of Shoreditch. A further condition was that my cousin, 


who was a distinguished-looking man, but full of engage- 
ments, should make a preliminary visit for the purpose 
of introduction to the gentlemen, mostly dog-stealers, 
who frequented the bar. This he did, without his watch 
or ornaments, when he was pledged to secrecy, and to a 
stipulation to wash his hands of Scotland Yard and to 
call again in three days' time. Having treated the 
company to drinks of then* own selection, and been nearly 
suffocated with tobacco, he found his way home as best 
he could. He kept his appointment in the evening of 
the third day and met the same boon companions, but 
no Dicky ; he was asserted to be not in town, but with 
many oaths and solemn asseverations it was promised 
that on that day week he should be " come at honest," 
and would come up from the country and be handed 
over in exchange for five so vs. Again my friend kept 
his appointment, and the proceedings began with several 
drinks all round, and some songs. Then the door being 
partly opened, Dicky slipped into the room, and was 
met with the interesting inquiry, " Why, who the devil 
does this dawg belong to ? Who owns this dawg ? " 
As no one claimed him, it was agreed that any one of the 
company who chose to place five sovs. on the table and 
pay the score, should be at liberty to collar the dawg 
and be off with him. In two hours he was in his old 
home, " honest," and was undergoing the process of 
washing, or rather scrubbing. 




THE spring of 1848 came on with its usual severity, and 
we left London for Hazelbeech, our future home in the 
Midlands, halfway between Northampton and Market 
Harborough, driving all the way in a pony-carriage, and 
sleeping at Dunstable. The glory of the famous posting- 
inn The Sugar Loaf was gone. No smart coaches or 
posters pulled up at its hospitable door ; the long range of 
stables down the yard had not a horse in them, and grass 
grew between the pebbles of the pavement. How different 
from the life and bustle upon which, as a schoolboy, I 
looked down from the smart coach-top ! These days 
seemed then very distant, almost farther off than they do 
now, when memory skips whole chapters of monotonous 
life's history and pauses and calls up only striking events, 
sad, serious, or joyful. Though we were lodged at the 
best hostelry in the town, it was but a mere pot-house 
with a noisy bar and a landlady in carpet slippers. 
There was a parlour with no fire, and a difficulty in kindling 
one, a chimney with a bird's nest in it that had to be 
burnt out, and from which at every gust the black smoke 
rolled out with almost explosive force. In these in- 
hospitable circumstances we felt like castaways, and 
gave way to dull despair. As early as possible we went 
on our way. The roads were heavy, being mended in 
those days, as I have said before, with local material 
sometimes sand, sometimes gravel or flint or rotting 




pebbles, contributed by the farmers, and picked off the 
arable fields by the frozen fingers of rural infants. These 
materials having been shot in heaps by the wayside 
under the direction of the parish surveyor of the high- 
way, the other extreme of human life, kneeling, cracked 
the largest specimens with repeated feeble blows of a 
clumsy hammer. Here and there this work was varied 
after a frost by the old fellows scraping off as mud the 
metal they had put on a month or two earlier. For all 
this miserable outfit statutable books had to be kept, 
made up, and verified, a separate rate got out, solemnly 
allowed by justices of the peace, and then collected. 
The whole business ended with a wrangle at the vestry, 
for which the surveyor fortified himself with a brimming 
jorum of brandy and water. 

I was soon settled in the Midlands, taking a farm 
dreadfully out of order, foul, wet, and exhausted. A 
steam plough was just designed at Reading, so I squared 
the fields up into parallelograms ready for its use if 
anything should come of it. I took a twenty-one 
years' lease of the land, 300 acres, and at once proceeded 
to make bricks and drain-pipes. The clay was excellent, 
labour was cheap and good of its kind, and the new farm 
premises were soon up. When winter came, I began to 
put the pipes in the ground. Any number of men were 
at my disposal, though the parish and those immediately 
adjacent were " close " parishes, and the men had to 
walk in some cases three and four miles to their work. 
Sometimes I had as many as thirty applicants for work 
in a day, some in the house yard, others in the shelter 
of the sheds. I could put most of them on, and I had 
at one time as many as sixty in my employment. 
Fuel in old days was dear, and in a village near at 


hand, the people, before the enclosure, used to bring 
home the cowdung from the open ways, and dab it 
against the whitewashed walls of their homes, from 
which, after being sun-baked, it was gathered under the 
name of " wall-fruit " for fuel. In an unenclosed 
parish there was, as a rule, no hedge-wood, or hedge- 
timber, excepting hi the few old enclosures round the 
manor-house and rectory. A very few feet separated 
the squatters' well from the pigsty and cess-pools ; and 
frequently one shallow dip-well and spring would be the 
water-supply for a score of houses. Typhoid made 
fearful ravages, and the water was the great source of 
infection. In one open parish, with a narrow, crowded 
by-street, I prevailed on the local doctor to made a 
plan of the houses which lined it and to sketch a coffin 
into each house in which he knew death to have occurred 
from this fever. Up and down this inclined thorough- 
fare were several little troughs, each fed by its own 
spring, but all connected below in the porous ground 
with the drains and cess-pools. Every attempt to 
improve this condition of things was resolutely resisted 
with reiterated statements that no fever had ever been 
prevalent with fatal consequences. At last, with the 
passing of the Public Health Act, 1875, efficient sewers 
were laid and fever has totally disappeared. 

At thirty years of age I had entirely identified myself 
with the pursuits and interests of country life in the 
Midlands, varied with the duties and responsibilities 
belonging to the ownership of ancestral property in the 
swarming population of East London. Without the 
faintest expectation of ever being in Parliament, during 
the next seventeen years I came to fill every parish 
office. My neighbours put me to be churchwarden, 


overseer of the poor, surveyor of the highways, guardian 
of the poor. Outside this I was a justice of the peace, 
and at one time I was so frequently summoned to serve 
on special juries that I at last appealed with success at 
the Assizes to be exempted from this exceptional call on 
my time. 

As a regular attendant at the markets in the trans- 
action of business with farmers and dealers, and being 
myself a tenant of three farms, I thoroughly understood, 
without the aid of books, pamphlets, or newspapers, the 
grievances, real and fancied, of those whose living de- 
pended on husbandry and live-stock. But I read as well. 

I pursued Liebig from Edinburgh to Glasgow, at 
the cost of a wealthy cousin, in a carriage with special 
engine, to hear him address 300 Scotch schoolmasters 
at a public dinner, with Alison the historian in the chair. 
Alison proposed Liebig's health in a fine speech. Then 
came the grievous disappointment : the great chemist 
made his acknowledgment in German, of which I knew 
not a word, though Arnold had put it on the Rugby cur- 
riculum the year before I left Rugby. Great as Liebig 
was, his opinion on the value of mineral manures, as the 
only fertilisers needed, was entirely wrong, and was proved 
to be so in a few years by my friend Sir John Lawes. 

I took great interest in the condition of the parish 
roads. I who, as a boy, had experienced on the fast 
coaches the advantages of Telford's magnificent Holy- 
head Road, coated with finely broken, hard material, 
with the constant attention of well-paid, experienced 
roadmen could not bring myself to tolerate the slovenly 
methods of my predecessors in office, besides the waste 
of money in using the rotten local stone, or pebbles 
picked off the fields. I at once ordered up a canal-boat 


cargo of properly broken so-called granite, to use as 
far as it would go. This meant a bigger highway-rate 
for the time, so I was voted out of office, and my suc- 
cessor, finding my material not worn out, bought less 
metal than ever, and was applauded for his skilful 
economy, and re-appointed. The next year the granite 
was cut through, and patching with rotten stone begun, 
and we relapsed into ruts and mud, and that was our 
condition until highway boards for districts superseded 
the parish officer. 

The church was in a dangerous condition. The north 
arcade was in danger of coming down, owing to a county 
family using that aisle for burial, digging holes for its 
squires close to the columns, and burrowing through 
the east wall for access to a brick pit outside. The 
windows to the south aisle were partly filled in with 
brickwork. Some of the clerestory windows were in 
the same plight. One had the tracery hacked out, 
and a wooden house-window put in its place. 

A builder's estimate stated that 300 would be wanted 
to make the structure safe. The rector, a prim, dignified 
little gentleman, keeping his close carriage and pair, 
was appalled at this suggested outlay, declaring that 
to raise such a sum was an impossibility. However, 
we made the venture, and what with fear of the roof 
coming down on their heads and a revived interest in 
Church work, then very strong in the diocese, we had 
sufficient promises, without going far afield, to justify 
our calling in an architect to prepare plans and speci- 
fications. Then we had a check. The principal con- 
tributor and landowner turned out to have peculiar 
ideas about parishioners' rights in then- church, and 
could not be brought to perceive that a parish church 


ought not to be converted into a private chapel without 
remonstrance. A withdrawal of his promised sub- 
scription followed on this remonstrance being made. 
It need hardly be said that the dissentient and defaulter 
was a Whig. The neighbourhood, however, specially 
one Dissenter, understood the principle for which we 
were now contending, public against private interest, 
and the whole of the lost subscription was replaced 
and exceeded by many smaller sums, and the work was 
put in hand. Instead of 300 being a difficulty, 1,345 
was paid in for the work. There was, however, a very 
unlooked-for objection raised by our rector, who, with 
his family, had most liberally helped the building fund. 
It is hardly credible, but there were some extremely 
handsome old oak seats in the nave, and a most pic- 
turesque old porch, both scarred and beautified by age, 
and his heart's desire was to do away with both, and re- 
place them by something " less dilapidated, and neater." 
But though much distressed, he gave in at last under 
pressure, and the old seats remain in their places. Be- 
hind them, of the same solidity and with the same 
carved decorations, are the new ones, in the place of 
the old box pews. The shattered roof was removed, 
and a heavy, solid oak duplicate, with the same design 
and mouldings, spanned the nave, flanked in the same 
way by new work to the aisles, and over all came 
the new lead covering. With the old structures went 
the village orchestra a bass viol, a flute, a flageolet, and 
a fiddle, also Tate and Brady. Organs were the rage, 
and somebody gave us a very poor one. Then came in 
" Hymns, Ancient and Modern," and one of the old features 
of village Sunday life disappeared for ever. A mechanical 
thing with a handle supplanted our zealous orchestra, 


and the Church, by this change, lost the regular presence 
at its services of four appointed musicians, unflinching 
witnesses to the supremacy of the Established Church 
of England. Village life lost much by these reforms, 
which disestablished its " minor canons " and removed a 
palpable encouragement to, and reason for, teaching 
music in the village school. 

Shortly before I came into my Midland home, the 
rector, the same who disliked the old oak seats, pulled 
down the old Norman chancel and replaced it by a neat, 
barn-like building, with Bangor slating and iron spouting. 
This abomination, however, has been cleared away by 
another rector, and an extremely fine chancel placed 
on the old foundations. This sort of good work has 
been, in my lifetime, going on all over the country. 
In my little parish, with only 130 to 140 inhabitants, 
over 2,000 has been laid out in restoration and adorn- 
ment of the church, mostly in masonry, carpentry in 
oak, and in carving, and this without any general appeal 
for funds, but carried out by those having a personal 
interest in the place. 

Free trade and war prices for grain led to the ploughing 
up of much of the poorer pastures, and, when the duty was 
taken off building material, to the erection of shedding- 
barns and new farmhouses in all directions. Land 
Improvement Acts and Companies promoted borrowing 
and charges on landed property, and owners got them- 
selves gaily into debt. At first the tenants were pledged 
to pay the interest as an addition to their rents, and 
with abundant yield from the newly broken pastures 
and war prices, all went well ; but with the permanent 
fall in prices, the debt for improvement, and the sub- 
stitution of the superior tenant with his two or three 


sitting-rooms for the old-fashioned plain master of 
his business, a great crash came, and, in the end, affairs 
were brought to an equilibrium, with a loss of 30 to 
50 per cent, of rent to the landowners. There had been 
a pretentious disregard of natural agencies, and a hurry 
to anticipate them by artificial substitutes. Crushing 
rollers at great expense were to do imperfectly what 
frost or the sun's baking heat and showers would do 
perfectly. Spiked Norwegian harrows were to assist 
in pulverising. The patent " cultivator " or scuffle 
was to do much of the work of the plough, and many 
husbandmen were thus scuffled into insolvency. The 
successful inventor and advertiser of a razor strop * 
honest, excellent enthusiast, with the literary assistance 
of an eulogistic press, brought a smiling host of the new 
school to his hospitable table on a heath, and showed them 
how to obviate drought, and fertilise their field by under- 
ground hydrants, conveying manure in the liquid form. 

My wealthy cousin who had run me in his " special " 
from Edinburgh to Glasgow to listen to Liebig, became 
the prey of an impostor, who convinced him that 
by far the larger part of agricultural processes 
could be dispensed with by resorting to the astounding 
influence of electricity. This charlatan, hailing from 
the far north, with thistles in flower embroidered on his 
brogues, moved about in society with his two hands 
thrust in his pockets. Pulling out his left, he showed a 
palm full of very inferior barley ; that, he said, was 
the average produce of benighted farmers. Putting 
that back, the right hand came up with a specimen of 
the finest grain, bold and golden ; he called it " bonnie," 
and said its character and quality were due to electricity. 
* Mr. Mechi, see p. 298. 


The means of this achievement were simple, and my 
cousin arranged for a demonstration on his estate in 
Hertfordshire, to take place early in the year, so that 
we might reap the advantage of mastering the method 
in that season's crop on our own farms. On a very 
cold bright day the party, about a score, came on the 
scene of action in a flinty field near Tring railway-station. 
There we found a plot of about a rood, with a few poles 
erected on its margin ; over the tops of these, wires were 
trained, coming down like shrouds or stays to stakes 
in the ground, to which they were fastened. That was 
all there was of reality ; not much, but it was more 
than made up for in the most daring assertion of mys- 
terious efficacy, corroborated by the pocket samples. 
The plot had been sown with barley, within sight of 
the passing railway-carriages, and if further proof was 
required by the sceptical, they would only have to look 
out of the windows in passing and they would get it. 
We wound up this mystic day with an excellent dinner 
as my cousin's guests at an hotel at Tring. As the chill 
of the flinty field wore off and our spirits awoke from 
the blank despondency caused by the sight and memory 
of the wire framing, we became contentious. There 
had been some mutterings of Science with the soup ; 
they died out with its removal, and with the joint came 
signs of distrust. My cousin and the charlatan, with 
the aid of two spirit-rappers, maintained their position, 
relying on Science, and pointing out that its absence in 
our education and in the conduct of our business lay 
at the bottom of our disbelief, but that henceforth we 
had only ourselves to blame if our garners were not 
better furnished with grain. The disquisition was 
brought to an abrupt end by an old fellow in drab, who 


had been silent throughout, exclaiming from the bottom 
of the table that he " could not swallow it." At first 
we were apprehensive, from his excited manner, that this 
referred to a portion of double Gloucester sticking in 
his throat, but he dismissed that cause of alarm by a 
thump on the table and the solemn proclamation that 
" them wires was a plant, " he might go as far as to 
say, with all respect, " damned humbug." This led to 
some husky exclamations of " Order ! order ! " " Chair ! 
chair ! " which brought my cousin on his legs to request 
the charlatan at once to remove their doubts and refute 
the heretics by an exhibition on the spot of the two con- 
vincing samples. The charlatan, having rung for the 
waiter, desired to be furnished with two saucers and a 
" dram of Loch-na-Gar." These were brought, and 
tossing off the Loch-na-Gar, he dived into his two pockets 
with the intention of placing the two samples in their 
respective saucers for our better inspection and con- 
viction. It turned out, however, that in consequence 
of previous drams they had got mixed, and that neither 
pocket held a pure illustration, both instead being filled 
with a hybrid. To make up for the disappointment, he 
gave us appropriately " Willie brewed a peck o' maut," 
declined argument, took snuff violently, and became 

Wonders, however, did not come to an end at Tring ; 
France, superseding Scotland, was to furnish more. A 
friend in Berkshire invited me to stay a few days with him 
and (the old story) learn how to fill the stackyard without 
the expensive manure-cart. This was to be done by 
a French process, consisting in steeping the grain before 
sowing in a miraculous fluid fertiliser, to be procured at 
an appreciable cost from the Gallic discoverer. Upon 


the faith of some foreign literature and newspaper dis- 
quisitions, my friend had gone and entangled himself 
in the net, steeped all his seed corn, and was awaiting 
the result in the utmost confidence and with a beaming 
countenance. In the end he did not seem a bit dis- 
concerted or ashamed when his crops turned out to be 
quite the worst in the county. 

Apart from these gross impostors was another class, 
honest in their belief, enthusiastic, rhetorical, and 
confident new lights, disdainful of experience, with 
a smattering of Science, creatures of the laboratory, 
not submissive to Nature and her persistent teaching, 
arrogant in their disdain and disregard of experience 
as a guiding star, now paled by the effulgence of 
experiment. They were excellent and interesting com- 
panions and had their representatives in Parliament. 
Among them was one I knew, a clergyman of great rural 
fame. I used to meet him in country houses, where, 
after dinner, he was fond of telling us, as he filled his 
glass with claret, that soil was a matter of indifference 
to him, as it soon would be to all modern cultivators ; 
he could grow his turnips as well on a deal board as In 
a melon bed. The modicums of organic and inorganic 
requisites for plant life and development had been 
ascertained with precision and could be furnished by the 
chemist. When asked how he would get on for moisture, 
the reply came at once, " Well enough ! A salted spot in 
the English climate is always damp." So salt stood for 
rain. These Jack o' Lanthorns, however, after drawing 
their deluded followers into the accustomed pitfalls, 
flickered out in due course, while advance on sounder 
ways was made by more cautious and better trained 
adventurers. This discovery of phosphatic nodules 


(coprolites) in Cambridgeshire and their treatment 
with sulphuric acid provided an abundant supply of 
soluble phosphates for turnip growers, and some com- 
pensation for the exhaustion of Peruvian guano. At 
this point there stepped out of the ranks of English 
squires a really great agricultural instructor and bene- 
factor, Mr. (afterwards Sir) John Bennet Lawes. Early 
in life he had studied chemistry with the best masters, 
and had learnt all that science could tell to the student 
of plant and animal life. Being eminently practical 
as well as theoretical, he took in hand the preparation 
of superphosphate of lime on a large commercial scale, 
with great advantage to himself and to husbandry. 
I was now a life-member of the Royal Agricultural 
Society of England, and so often met Mr. Lawes, at 
last making his acquaintance. He had founded the 
experimental farm at his family place at Rothamsted, 
and there, in the beautiful old mansion, he was ever 
ready to give his friends a hearty welcome. His method 
of investigation was so thorough as to command the 
acceptance of all his deductions. When he found 
science and scientific conclusions at variance with the 
accepted and successful practice of the farmer, there 
was with him no scornful rejection of the field lessons, 
but, on the contrary, the formulas and work of the 
laboratory were reconsidered and scrutinised in the 
modest belief that the field might be right and the study 
in error, as was frequently found to be the case. His 
was a rugged wisdom ; no long hair or fanciful apparel 
suggested the intense mental activity and reflection 
present in that small, active, untiring body. The clear 
way in which he imparted scientific truths to an un- 
scientific companion was beyond praise, and so were the 


generosity and energy with which he would for hours 
pour out valuable knowledge to a receptive mind. Some- 
times this was quite startling. I remember some con- 
versation we had one day about wheat and the belief 
that it was not to be found wild anywhere in the world. 
I remarked that of course this must be the case, as 
bread comes of the sweat of a man's brow, and on that 
account, together with the curse and the thorns and 
briars, I thought the miraculous seed-corn of wheat must 
have been put into Adam's hands when he first went 
forth to till the earth. He said, " I can show you some 
proof of that," and going to a wide cabinet of shallow 
drawers, he produced from the top a splendid sample, 
bundled up, of wheat in the straw. In the drawer below 
was a bundle of what, in America, goes by the name of 
a volunteer crop that is, the self-sown crop from the seed 
of the previous year's plant, shed on the ground. The ears 
of this specimen were very inferior indeed to those of 
the parent plant. But again, in the drawer lower down, 
was another bundle of the self-sown third year's harvest, 
self-grown, untouched and unassisted by human labour. 
In this sample there was not a single grain present to 
carry on the race. The straw was there, short and weak, 
and at the top the grain-bearing spikes entirely unfruitful. 
Lawes was a deer-stalker and accomplished salmon- 
fisher. He rented for many years in Scotland some 
water giving him good sport, but never with large 
fish. I think he told me their weight did not exceed 
seven pounds. At last, upon application for the re- 
newal of the lease, the owner expressed his great regret 
that, in consequence of his heir having come to man's 
estate, the water would no longer be let. So the last 
day for Lawes's rod on the river dawned, and he made 


the most of it, with the very extraordinary result of 
landing three fish of unprecedented weight, one, I think 
he told me, nine pounds, one over eleven, and one actually 
twenty-one. He could only account for this, he said, 
as a complimentary effort on the part of the fish to 
signalise his retirement by a generous example of self- 

His life and splendid genius were devoted to agri- 
cultural research and, with the aid of his accomplished 
colleague Sir Henry Gilbert, to the collection, during a 
long series of years, of records and tables of the results 
obtained in the laboratory and farm at Rothamsted, 
but, in the end, he realised that the secrets of Nature 
required far more time than the life of one man for their 
sufficient and trustworthy revelation. Whereupon, with 
rare unselfishness and the deepest faith in his views, he 
placed 100,000 in the hands of trustees, to be devoted to 
the systematic continuance of the Rothamsted investiga- 
tions. While he was still living it was thought well, on the 
fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the laboratory 
at Rothamsted, to place some enduring memorial of the 
event on the spot. Accordingly, a huge block of granite 
was brought from the north, and placed on the common 
just outside the grounds, with an inscription of the purpose 
it was intended to serve. Invitations to persons likely to 
be interested were issued, among others to me. Two 
dukes one the President of the Royal Agricultural 
Society, the other, a past President attended, as well as 
the Lord Lieutenant of the County, and this trio were 
the only representatives of the agricultural capital of 
England. I was horribly dissatisfied at this neglect, 
especially when I found Scotland, France, Germany, 
and other countries sending eager representatives, some 


of whom begged of me to obtain permission to view 
the experimental plots before leaving. Sir Henry Gilbert 
not only acquiesced, but accompanied the visitors, who 
pushed their inquiries with the ardour of men who 
knew the value of this opportunity. 



NEARLY every year my wife and I, with very little money 
to spare, made excursion either in the west or north of 
England, for the most part on foot. Thus I visited 
and revisited the coast line of North Devon, Somerset, 
and Cornwall, every now and then leaving the route for 
some fair or notable farm or estate. On one occasion, 
taking my knapsack, I walked from Lynmouth to Mr. 
Knight's improvements at Simonds Bath, Exmoor, where 
a great sale of Exmoor ponies was held. I found much 
of the moor there enclosed and under cultivation with 
improved grasses, such as rye grass. On the moor itself 
cattle were taken in to joist, and the sums realised 
seemed to have been steadily rising ; beginning at 400 
a year, they had gone up to 500, 1,000, and at last to 
1,400. Ewes bought at 16s. produced lambs which 
went off at 27s. I bought no ponies at this sale ; but 
hearing of a fair next day at Barnstaple, I walked on 
all night, and was on the spot in time to buy some young 
horses and a small drove of young Devon cattle. I can 
never forget the rage and fury of a huge, rough cattle- 
dealer at my appearing as a strange buyer from a distance. 
His behaviour was very objectionable, not to say insulting ; 
but if it annoyed me, it amused the farmers, who were 
naturally delighted to find a new buyer at the fair, and 
all anxious to draw me away by a button-hole to see 
" the very best bunch of moor cattle ever seen in the 

177 12 


county." I had no trouble in doing business on fair 
and satisfactory terms, and, when all was over and 
several glasses of abominable mixtures had been swallowed 
for good fellowship, they brought me a trustworthy 
drover who undertook, for the sum of half a guinea each, 
to get my purchases to my Midland farm. This he did 
without any mishap, though he did not pick up any 
animals by mistake on the way, as the best Scotch 
drovers sometimes do. A friend of mine, going from 
England to the West Highlands to hold land there, was 
cautioned about the drovers and shepherds who were 
to take his stock to Falkirk Tryst. When the owner 
was English, it was not unusual for several of his animals 
to disappear on the way, and he would be told, that what 
with freebooting tricks and the thousands of sheep and 
cattle on foot together, the loss of animals was quite 
a natural feature in the drift. My friend, however, was 
assured that an extremely experienced and wily drover, 
one in a thousand, had been retained for him. The 
animals were counted into his charge, and started off 
a fortnight before the tryst. Their owner followed and 
joined his property at Falkirk. With much apprehen- 
sion and misgiving, he inquired of the drover, after they 
had both " tasted," how he got through. He replied, 
" None so bad, though it might have been better ; there 
are only thirteen more animals in the drove than when I 

Many amusing surprises were encountered at fairs and 
markets. One of the earliest I can call to mind was 
at Southall, in Middlesex. It was a great, almost 
metropolitan, market for calves and pigs. The owner 
of four very nice animals in a pen was directing my 
attention to their charms, when a buyer came forward 


rather boldly and said, " How much a head ? " " Thirty 
shillings," my companion replied in an engaging and 
respectful tone. I at once regretted my not having 
gone in myself for such a bargain, as the price named 
was certainly much below the value. The buyer knew 
this as well, but he kept his countenance and began 
haggling and asking how much would be abated. But 
as the seller remained taciturn, he said with the usual 
air of desperation, " Well, I'll take them," and brought 
out a five-pound note and one sovereign, which he put 
into the vendor's hand, who at once quietly observed, 
"This won't do." "Why so?" said the butcher. 
" You can't back out." " Oh no ! I don't want to do 
that ; but I want six pounds more of you," was the reply. 
This brought out violent remonstrance and the assertion, 
" When I asked how much a head, you said, and no 
mistake, thirty shillings." " Just so," retorted the seller ; 
" but I want thirty shillings more for their tails." Then 
came : " Well now, I never ! What business have you to 
take up folks' time with this nonsense ? " Then, after five 
minutes' amusing badinage, another five-pound note 
was added and the bargain was closed. 

In horse-dealing not a point is overlooked, caution is 
pitted against deception all the way round. Warranty 
comes in question, and " chaunting " has to be tested 
The art of concealing defects and extolling and demon- 
strating excellency comes into full play ; but only half 
of this caution is thought needful in the purchase of a 
cow. I once, however, saw an instance of a bad bargain 
from this conventional indifference. There was a re- 
markably useful-looking cow standing by herself in the 
sun against the wall of Leicester market. As I thought 
it might suit me, I questioned a man standing by, and 


was told she had belonged to a farmer, but was just sold 
to a dealer. I kept my eye on the animal, and had the 
luck to see the dealer come to drive her away, so I waited 
to get a word with him. He seemed in a hurry, and 
tapping the animal on the hocks with his ash-plant to 
put her in motion, he startled her out of a reverie ; but 
instead of turning round and walking off, she went head- 
long with a crash against the wall opposite. The dealer, 
taken aback all on the sudden, drew himself up for a 
moment, and then turning to me said, " I am blowed 
if she isn't blind ! " And so she was, as a stone. 

In 1854 came the war with Russia. The Protectionists 
taunted the Free Traders with their unrealised anticipa- 
tions of universal peace and goodwill among nations. 
Wheat rose promptly 8s. a quarter. War was declared 
on March 28, and we had a day of public humiliation on 
April 26, when I went twice to the village church. During 
this year my interest in the Poor Law was revived by 
Mr. Barnes's Bill in Parliament on the settlement of the 
poor, and I examined more closely the action of the 
guardians in my own and other unions, not omitting 
East London. For a year or two war with Russia 
continued. Alma, the false report of the fall of 
Sebastopol, Balaclava, Inkerman, all followed in quick 
succession, till the end came and the Russians evacuated, 
or, rather, were driven out of the battered stronghold, 
which had been made so formidable by the genius of 
Todleben. On May 29 came the peace rejoicings, and I 
witnessed the fireworks on Primrose Hill from my station 
in the Regent's Park. 

Every autumn I now went shooting, fishing, and deer- 
stalking in Scotland, or shooting in Ireland. The scenery 
furnished the principal charm, especially in deer-stalking ; 


all was then so quiet, no rambling dogs, no talking, all 
movements so stealthy that we almost trod on the un- 
suspecting and undisturbed quarry as they " met secure " 
in the sacred forest. My rifle differed much from the 
modern form, but it was a famous one, and had been the 
property of the most notable sportsman of his day, Major 
Ross. It came from Vienna, a double barrel, carried a 
ball of an ounce weight which, wrapped in a greased patch, 
was rammed with some exertion down to the powder, 
which had been previously measured out in a small horn 
cup, like a thimble. The right barrel was dead true, the 
left shot slightly across the right. The first stalker that 
took me afield was George Ross ; when we first fore- 
gathered, he startled me by a loud Scotch exclamation, 
and, snatching the rifle from my hand, he held it up before 
him in an attitude of adoration. Many a time had he 
carried it in the forest with the Major, and he seemed to 
have for it the affection of a parent. On my telling him I 
had never used it, in fact, had never been out after stags, 
he said it would be well if I tried the sighting. So off we 
went. When I pulled the horn measure out of my 
waistcoat pocket, he was in raptures, declaring that now 
nothing was wanting except my good behaviour. We 
put up an orange on a rod, stepped out sixty yards, 
that being the longest range he would allow. At the 
first shot the orange was dispersed in a squash. Then I 
was to try the left barrel. Ross knew of its deflection, 
and told me the allowance to make for it ; but I missed 
the mark, and it was not until I had had three tries that 
I satisfactorily mastered the error. 

The next morning we started together, he leading 
Boston, a very fine heavy black retriever. It was a 
lovely, still, sunny day. I had a very good glass by 


Dolland, and begged to be allowed to try my hand, 
or rather eyes, at finding the game. Within an hour 
or so we sat down, as he said there was a beast, 
a good one, within view. It must have been a quarter 
of an hour or more before I discovered him about two 
miles off, feeding. Then we got up, and at once I became 
a mere child in the stalker's hands. Sometimes we walked 
upright, sometimes stooping, sometimes crawling like 
reptiles, ever and anon testing the almost imperceptible 
currents in the air by tossing up little scraps of dead 
grass, or wetting the forefinger and holding it up. Of 
course we kept the beast under observation, and at one 
time feared he had moved off, but, persevering, found he 
was lying down partly hid by a stone ; so on we moved, 
and it soon came to crawling only, or getting over the 
ground in a sort of swimming style stretched along 
horizontally. At last Ross, putting his hand under my 
chin to raise my head a bit, whispered, " Look ! " I was 
so hot and my eyes so clouded by motes that it was some 
seconds before I could see distinctly, but I pinched Ross's 
hand to let him know I spotted the stag, or at least so 
much of him as consisted of his magnificent head, neck, 
and one shoulder, for he was still lying at rest. Ross 
slipped the rifle into my hand, and I put the muzzle just 
over a stone to which we had crept ; then he whispered, 
" Fifty yards be steady " ; but before I fired, and when 
all my mental power seemed to have centred in my right 
eye and forefinger, I felt his hand and arm sliding up 
inside my jacket along my backbone. It was rather 
distracting, but I kept steady, and the report of the 
shot broke the awful stillness of the hills and echoed 
away among the rocks. The smoke curled up in the 
autumn air, I was on my feet in no time, so was the stag, 


who made off down the slopes for a little corrie. He was 
out of sight before we reached the spot where he had lain. 
Ross was in good spirits, saying I had hit him in the 
right place. Releasing Boston, we followed him on the 
track, and were soon brought to a splash of blood on a 
rock, then to another and another, and so into the corrie, 
where the splendid beast was stretched out dead. We 
made the venison safe in concealment, and went on to 
the bothie for the night, catching some unsophisticated 
trout in a loch with a rowan berry. Rain came on, and 
I was drenched before getting under cover. In the hut 
we contrived to light a fire, and found dry heather to 
sleep on, but the roof leaked. We cooked some of the 
stag's liver over the fire, in the paunch for a saucepan. 
There were two or three chairs, and a table with a very 
solid top to it, bearing some noteworthy inscriptions, for 
here I found, cut in it, the name of my schoolfellow Arthur 
Clough, and so learnt that I was really in the Bothie 
of Tober-na-Vuolich, the subject of his poem. Near 
it in bold letters I read, " G. Ward Hunt," my county 
member, who had been one of dough's party. To these 
I added my own in deep intaglio, and rejoice to think 
that the table-top has come south, and is honoured 
and preserved in an English mansion. The next 
day, after killing two stags, we went down, meeting 
the ponies as arranged, and packing the venison on 

Stalking would be fine sport if one was left alone to 
find and get up to the stag success would then be worth 
speaking of ; but if nothing is left for the " gentlemen " 
to do but to move exactly as the stalker directs, and, 
thus " personally conducted " within range of the animal, 
to fire and kill him, he is a muff if he fails to do this, 


and the conclusion does not differ much from shooting 
an ox down in a butcher's yard. 

Grouse, when you spend your time among them with 
splendid Gordon setters, and a keen Gaelic keeper and 
his gillie as companions, give more real sport, though 
perhaps not so much excitement. For sport, however, 
excitement, and exercise of limbs and temper, the jack- 
snipe bears the bell. He is always unexpected, uncertain, 
and startling, and seems as likely to be brought down if 
you fired at random as with the most studied aim. In 
either case he will probably zigzag away to another soft 
patch, leaving you in amazement to " try again." Rabbit 
shooting I thought excellent sport. I agree with Lord 
Granville, who remarked at an agricultural dinner, when 
the Game Laws were like to be dragged into discussion, 
that from his point of view the rabbit had only one fault 
namely, that he was " two inches too short." 

The mention of that excellent after-dinner speaker Lord 
Granville prompts me to say that I have often found 
the House of Lords the best company and the most 
capable speakers at agricultural dinners, when the de- 
pressions of prices and weather seemed chronic. Their 
aristocratic remarks seem to rise like the lark in the 
summer atmosphere. They don't cry " stinking fish of 
their own goods," as the weaker squires so continually 
do. I did not hear, but I found in a local paper a year 
or two ago an evidence of this. Lord Lonsdale was in 
the chair. As usual on these festive occasions, " times 
were bad," and the usual remedies, scientific, legal, par- 
liamentary, clerical, and impossible, were flying round 
the table, when amidst rappings, coughs, sneezes, cheers, 
and other encouragements, the noble lord got on his legs. 
After avowing his pleasure (which was real) in meeting 


his tenantry, nearly all of them fox-hunters, he told 
them that, participating to a measure in their tem- 
porary difficulties, he had turned his mind to .consider 
the merits of the different specifics suggested for agri- 
cultural depression. He said he found universally a 
difference of opinion over all of them with one exception, 
and that was the one he felt competent to take up 
namely, rent. It seemed agreed without saying that, 
with rent sufficiently minimised or, better still, got rid 
of altogether, the farming and grazing interests could get 
along. Well, he said he was a creature of circumstances, 
and unfortunately born a landlord. He could not help 
that ; it was not his choice, but his fate, and without 
taking up time he would only ask of them when they got 
home to be kind enough to consider what would become 
of the Lowthers without rent. This good sense came 
home to the hearts and bosoms of the company, and was 
met with applause. It takes a lot of liquor to get through 
the sitting where a solemn landlord presides. 

What I mostly remember of the year 1860 are the 
war and wet, both intensely interesting to me. The 
rain was incessant, but that did not prevent a Rifle 
Volunteer review at Althorp Park, promoted and en- 
couraged by its noble owner Lord Spencer, one who 
fulfilled in the most constant manner all the duties of 
an hereditary county magnate and a trusted politician. 
Devoted though he was to fox-hunting as a pastime, 
to business and to statecraft it invariably had to give 
place. At the end of September there were great storms, 
the corn stood out in the field uncarried, much indeed 
uncut. This ended in a severe winter. Christmas Eve 
was the coldest on record. Owing to a mishap to a 
train, my wife and I had to walk four miles from a country 


station at night. The air was quite still, but the ther- 
mometer recorded thirteen degrees below zero. This 
extreme of cold was most severe in Huntingdonshire and 
Cambridgeshire, where the laurels were killed to the 
ground, Lombardy poplars destroyed, oak trees split, 
and the great branches of some of the oldest deprived 
of life. 

On the other side of the Atlantic the question of the 
possession of slavery in fresh territory was coming to an 
issue, and the arbitrament was passing from the council 
chamber to the battlefield. Abraham Lincoln came, as 
it were, out of the wilderness, a self-educated man, to 
take his place as the first statesman of the age. He had 
abandoned, with the versatility still peculiar to Ameri- 
cans, the occupation of rail splitter in the woods for that 
of town life in a store, and thence through an attorney's 
office and business he passed on to the practice of a 
barrister, that profession being united with that of 
attorney in the same person. He was a great reader and 
student of law and history. His opportunity had arrived, 
and he entered into political life and action with eagerness 
and determination. He was well fitted for the platform, 
a clear and impressive speaker, used the simplest and 
purest Saxon phraseology, and was gifted with an un- 
commonly retentive memory. His addresses always 
gathered audiences, who trooped in from miles on every 
side of the thinly peopled district. They were rewarded 
with language they could understand, with solid wisdom 
and merry wit, from the mouth of the ungainly giant, 
6 ft. 3 in. in stature, who had given them many a proof 
of physical strength, now to be matched or surpassed by 
demonstrations of mental power and constructive ability. 
He was a great student of the Bible, and, as with Mr. 


John Bright, the language of the Bible inspired or illus- 
trated his utterances with its faith, poetry, and prophecy. 
I have often thought how effectively, if Moses had been 
out of the way, Lincoln could have taken his people 
through the long trail in the wilderness to the Promised 
Land. No other character in history, that I can recall, 
would have been equal to the business. 

Some years after the war was over I made my first 
speech in Parliament, a short one, on a subject which 
I understood. I had had no practice in speaking, and 
I felt very uncomfortable and disturbed. However, 
I said, I suppose, what I wanted to say, for Mr. Bright, 
then in the Cabinet, from whose expressed views I had 
just differed, sent a friend to ask me to see him in 
the smoking-room. When I joined him and had been 
introduced, he asked me whether the country gentlemen 
had given me warm support, as he believed I was a Free 
Trader, and had independent ideas and convictions ; 
then, referring to a close friendship between myself and 
another county member who had been returned, after 
a contest, in the place of a representative of a powerful 
county family, he said, " Don't you think you two gentle- 
men could take an independent line of your own on some 
of the questions of the day ? " This was indeed a bold 
suggestion, and I met it by replying that I was quite a 
young politician, only just introduced into the strange 
excitement of the House of Commons ; that I had been 
elected to represent an important national interest, and 
had ousted Mr. Gladstone's disciple with the general sup- 
port of the Conservatives, given very likely under the 
persuasion that I was the surest person to despatch the 
obnoxious M.P. I told him that he would find me 
always seated opposite to his friends, as I felt certain I 


should be of no possible service to my constituents or 
country if I separated myself from those with whom 
I generally agreed. As I turned to go away, he held out 
his hand to get my attention, and added, " I had to 
listen to your short speech, and I want to tell you, always 
use the Bible as you have done this afternoon." I said 
I was unconscious of having done so. " Oh yes, you 
have," he replied. " You quoted the Book of Genesis, 
when you reminded me that my calculations might be 
falsified by the ' earth bringing forth by handfuls.' " 
I shall have some more to say about Mr. Bright in the 
coming years. 

To return to the Civil War in America. A year or two 
before I had fortunately been advised to study what 
Olmsted had written on slavery in the Southern States. 
I bought his works, and, convinced by the statement of 
facts and arguments, warmly adopted his views, supported 
as they were, not by sentimentality, but by the irresistible 
truths of political economy. He is a charming writer, 
and the view he gives is complete of the homes and do- 
mestic habits of the slave owners, and of the management 
and treatment of the negro population on then- planta- 
tions engaged in planting, picking, packing, and shipping 
the cotton crop. The money value of a slave, to the 
owner who has bred, reared, and trained him or her, is 
explained, and the enormous capital that was thus in 
jeopardy and risked by a war, with abolition in prospect, 
is apparent. 

There were two influences shaping action and politics 
one sentimental, springing from the hearts of those whose 
sympathy was roused by the natural horror of conse- 
quences certain to follow on the complete subjection of 
an inferior to the will of a dominant race, where not only 


the liberty, but the most elementary rights of mankind 
had no more recognition than those of domestic animals. 
The other and more operative influence, was the mer- 
cantile and commercial one; As matters stood, the North 
got nothing by the South, either by way of trade or 
manufacture. The owners of the negroes made their 
profits by the devastation and exhaustion of the natural 
fertility of fresh soil. They made use of no restoratives ; 
they moved over the cultivable earth as a caterpillar 
over the surface of a cabbage leaf, devouring all that 
would sustain the invader, leaving behind nothing but a 
flayed skeleton. Thus the continued existence and ex- 
tension of slavery depended on the acquisition and 
exhaustion of fresh territory with the permanent institu- 
tion of slavery therein. But the wants of the slave were 
of the most meagre kind the rudest tools, the simplest 
dress, the cheapest food. Now, as the wants of a nation 
are the source of its wealth, it was evident enough that 
poverty and slavery would go together, specially poverty 
of the soil. I think that Liebig has stated that for fifty 
years Virginia grew tobacco continuously, and then 
declined to grow anything beyond scrub. Is it to be 
wondered that the North disputed, and at the last re- 
sisted the arrogant claims of the South ? Anyhow, I 
sympathised with the North, in cold blood, supported 
in my adhesion by the economic teaching of Olmsted, 
and in warm blood by my early remembrance of Wilber- 
f orce and the poetry of Cowper, who was the bard of my 
nursery. I soon found that I had rendered myself un- 
popular, for all my neighbours, the ladies without excep- 
tion, were believers in the gallantry and gentlemanly 
bearing and character of the South. They quoted Mr. 
Gladstone, with his prophetic delusions as to the possi- 


bility of a future Southern empire, and I sometimes 
thought that the ladies I took in to dinner felt I would 
go down lower. The upper-class opinion of Slavery 
in 1860 and of Free Trade in 1903 distressed me, as I 
thought it betrayed a want of education. With the 
women of the field and factory other opinions prevailed, 
and when these subjects were in the air I found them 
better company. I suppose their conditions of life had 
brought them to conceive in a degree what slavery and 
what hunger meant. 

A cruel illustration of bad feeling towards the North 
came under my observation on the murder of the 
President. In the midst of a meeting of a board of 
guardians, news was brought into the room of Lincoln's 
assassination ; whereupon a colleague, late an officer 
in the Queen's service and a county magistrate, sprang 
from his chair with the exulting cry of " Hurrah ! 
hurrah ! " -I could only lower my head, and pay an 


involuntary tribute to the memory of the murdered hero, 
in tears. In after-years I visited his splendid memorial 
at his State capital, Springfield, Illinois, and in the crypt 
below it the first thing that met my eye was a sympa- 
thetic address on his death, signed by the mayor of my 
county town. In this crypt are preserved some of the 
measuring instruments he had used as a young man, and 
there too, I think, I took in my hand a portion of the 
dress of the actress who had rushed off the stage to his 
box, and lifted his poor bleeding head on her lap. The 
beautiful pattern and embroidery of the skirt were stained 
with his blood, and it stirred in me the same feelings of 
affection and devotion as rise to my mind when I stand 
in the presence of the relics of Nelson. 
To return, however, to my own farming operations. 


One autumn day I was with my foreman, going over 
a farm I rented in the Midlands, and stepping over a fence 
into a neighbour's field, the foreman said, " That land 
you are on is for sale ; it was put up to auction last week, 
and bought in." I walked down to the tenant's house 
in the village, and learned from him the reserve price put 
on it, which I thought not extravagant. I soon found 
myself an owner in a parish, which for poverty and 
roughness had been a by-word in the county ; some 
house property as well as the farm buildings became mine. 
The tenant, a nice old fellow, was impecunious, and the 
arable land exhausted and foul. 

There was a small factory in the village displacing 
the framework knitters, but offering new employment. 
It was the factory and the framework knitters that 1 
had in my mind when I bought, and I thought both 
might be bettered, and some of the people diverted from 
debt and drink. The clergyman of the parish had a 
miserable stipend and narrow means, but a great soul. 
He went with me in my suggestion to start a Provident 
Society, and an announcement was made that any who felt 
well disposed for the venture should meet me in the village. 
About twenty or more frame-work knitters and factory 
hands turned up, many of them with bare feet, for it was 
their habit to work so. I explained that if seven were forth- 
coming with one pound each, I would submit the rules 
to them for approval and have the society registered 
under the Industrial and Provident Society Act. Among 
other goods beer was to be sold to the members. There 
was some remonstrance among outsiders on this being 
known, but the shareholders stood by the beer, with the 
happy result that two beer-houses shortly after closed 
their doors, for the society's beer was of better quality 


and returned a very great addition to the dividend. One 
of my farm labourers put in 13, the clergyman 1, myself 
1, and about ten others 1 each. We were fortunate 
in our storekeeper, the committee were very capable 
though very humble men, and this tiny business was a 
success from the day of its starting. All transactions, 
in and out, were under the rule for ready money. I 
fitted up a cottage with counters, and the society found 
the other fixtures. Before long more room was needed, 
and the next cottage was added and internal communica- 
tion made. The handsome dividends paid at once 
attracted new members from the factory and fields, and 
a large room I owned, adjoining the shop on its other 
side, was in the course of two or three years rented of 
me for baker's business, with an oven added, costing over 
100, for which I was paid 7 per cent, on the outlay. To 
finish the story, one day the secretary came to say that 
the society would like to go into butchering on its own 
account ; would I build a slaughter-house and shop at 
7 per cent, on the outlay ? In the end I told them I was 
afraid they were growing so fast that the original premises 
might ere long be found inadequate, but that I would 
sell all the premises and a garden behind to them, and, 
if they would pay a substantial deposit, I would trust 
them with the greater portion of the purchase money, 
allowing the balance to be paid off within five years by 
instalments at 5 per cent, interest. We closed on this, and 
at the end of two years the secretary wished to know if I 
would accept the full payment, which I did. This humble 
enterprise has now grown into a business with sales of over 
6,000 a year. Two more important factories have been 
established, and two land societies for building. One 
rather remarkable result of the conduct of business by 


the Provident Society occurred on a strike at Wolver- 
hampton or in the Black Country which raised the whole- 
sale price of spades. This caused indignation and so 
strong a feeling against strikes that the factory hands in 
the village have persistently refused to co-operate with 
the strikers in the county town. On one occasion the 
townsmen said they would come over and confer with the 
villagers, if they would meet them. The reply was that 
they would meet them on the road with the frame bars 
in their hands and do the " striking " on the spot, and so 
the matter ended. 

I relieved the old tenant of the occupation of the 
arable land which I had purchased, and laid it all down 
to grass, except two fields which were nearly all taken 
by the co-operators. The society rented the land in 
bulk of me, and relet it in allotments at a profit. When 
the land societies were formed, they gave up my land, 
and I laid it down to grass. On the old tenant dying, 
I took the farm in hand, drained it, and then let it out 
in small holdings of ten to thirty acres. Not one farthing 
of rent has ever been in arrear ; the holdings are for 
twelve months only, at the end of which period the 
tenant leaves or asks to renew for twelve months more. 
In the event of a tenant not renewing, and in the rare 
case of another not applying, I stocked the land myself. 
I have an idea that my tenants' knowledge of my being 
in a position to do this had its advantages. So, for over 
forty years, I have had business and friendly relations 
with these people. I was a large occupier of land myself, 
and they knew I could form a correct opinion of their 
circumstances and advise them how best occasional 
difficulties from a change of times could be met. . After 
the disastrous drop in prices of 1879 and the following 



years I readily allowed a reduction of rent, which has 
never since been put up again and is still a remunerative 

In 1863, on March 15, the Prince of Wales married. 
A few days before this he was Lord Spencer's guest at 
Althorp, and of course went out hunting. He was a bold 
rider, and rather late in the afternoon a friend in pink 
hurried into the house to tell me that his Royal Highness 
was in my paddock, having led his tired horse up the hill. 
He passed through the house to tell my wife, who was 
proceeding seriously with a large hen to place her on her 
eggs. All she said was, " You had better go in and get 
something, and don't waste your time and mine by trying 
to take me in ; I'll come to you when I have settled this 
hen." But before that was done, the yard was filling 
with horsemen, among whom she stood with the hen, 
still artistically confined under her shoulder. Then she 
got her way, and having settled the hen on her nest, went 
in to inquire. Meanwhile, one of the Prince's companions, 
finding me, told me the Prince had had a long day, and 
suggested a glass of sherry. I fancied the Prince was, like 
myself, fonder of beer in the open than of sherry, so 
I went off to him and, in my best manner, said as much. 
I could see by his face that I had done the right thing, 
and I sent him out an ale glass as we had them then, 
sparkling with the purest old bottled Burton ale, such as 
would asphyxiate a young man of the present day. 
That was my first but not my last interview with our 
present sovereign.* 

I had been making great preparations to celebrate 
the wedding day. My little house, a very ugly one, stood 

* Mr. Pell was the guest of His Majesty, then Prince of Wales, at 
Sandringham, in July, 1896. 


at the edge of a hilltop, 600 and odd feet above sea- 
level ; below was a great basin dotted with woods and 
fox-covers and surrounded by a rim of hills, on which 
stood villages with well-timbered enclosures round them. 
I took great pains to induce the inhabitants, rich and poor, 
to co-operate in a display of fireworks, and collected over 
73 for that object. With this I went to London to 
consult Messrs. Pain, the pyrotechnists, and procured 
from them many pounds of coloured fires, red, blue, 
and white, in powder. This I had spread on boards and 
placed in the covers and groves. I had plenty of mortars 
out of which to fire cloud-shells, and a fine battery of 
rockets. These fireworks were divided among the sub- 
scribing villages and marshalled on their highest spaces. 
At the discharge of a single rocket from my garden the 
display began in concert and in an arranged order, pre- 
ceded, however, by the coloured fires illuminating the 
covers, much to the amazement of the Pytchley foxes. 
The night was fine and clear and the effect most striking 
and beautiful. Then the shells sprang up, and brilliant 
clouds of many hues hung over the villages, some of them 
scattering showers of stars and streamers. Above all 
this, at intervals, bouquets of the most powerful rockets 
whizzed up to the very stars amidst the screams of 
children and the approving murmurs or applause of the 
elders. When nothing was left of Messrs. Pain but 
empty, blackened cases, the large bonfires were lighted 
on the topmost heights, and all went home by moonlight. 
The display covered an area of about 3,000 acres, and was 
not soon forgotten. 

I was now farming, as a tenant, three farms in two 
Midland counties, besides a third, a small one, in 
Cambridgeshire. As I had no " superior " bailiff, but 


only a foreman, this gave me plenty to do, in addition to 
the charge of some freehold property in East London. I 
took, too, my full share in local public duties and offices. 

In the next month I made my visit to the Lake country, 
my introductory one having come off as a boy some 
thirty years earlier at Eden Hall. Now the pleasure 
was doubled by my wife walking with me, each of us 
carrying our paraphernalia. Sleeping at Leeds on 
April 25, we were at Settle Cattle Fair by 11 o'clock 
on the 26th. The cattle were indeed mostly of an 
excellent stamp, but I could buy none, the Scotch dealers 
carrying away a large number at high prices ; so we went 
on and reached Windermere by rail at 4.30. We walked 
at once to Elleray and by lake to Bowness, where thirty 
years before the coach had put me down to breakfast. 

Then it was that we made up our minds to visit, if pos- 
sible, Rosthwaite every spring. Nothing that I have met 
with, either in the Old or the New World, surpasses it in 
beauty. Wordsworth becomes rather a bore there, and 
the guide-books are all nauseous. The Ordnance survey 
sheets, a good small opera-glass, nails in the shoes, and 
a walking-stick is a sufficient equipment. The influx 
of trippers of late years has not improved the accom- 
modation, once so simple, clean, and wholesome. Large 
hotels with table d'hotes and menus and coloured glasses 
and cigarettes and waiters in black with low shoes and 
white stockings and napkins have come in to stay. Still, 
the hills and the fells are open to flee to, and the shepherds 
and their dogs have not yielded to fashions. No railroad 
has twisted its way up to Honister. The slatey stuff 
rattles down its precipices, as of old, and the diurnal 
processions of the slate-carts on their way to Keswick 
go creaking and screeching down the hills as of yore with 


as strong a stud of horses in the shafts as England can 
show. There the Lent lilies among the stony edges of 
Derwentwater Aflutter in the wind, the primrose is at its 
best with no rival near it in the spot it has made its own, 
just a little pad of grass under a rock and reflected in the 
pool below. The parsley fern by the rugged track is 
the harbinger of spring, flourishing in green tufts among 
a wilderness of boulders rolled down on the brown sward ; 
while higher up, where the water trickles, the butterwort 
erects a flower-stem above its cruel charnel-house of leaves, 
speckled with murdered insects. Not far away, on a 
patch of miry bog, there is certain to be the spectral 
dewwort, a thug with its flat, ruddy leaves inviting the 
visits of silly flies, decoyed there perhaps by the glittering 
fringe of beads of moisture poised at the end of tiny 
lances, which are ready to close down on any miserable 
victim that touches them. 



WITH the year 1865 a great scourge appeared in England 
which brought about in a very natural though unex- 
pected way a great change in the occupations and objects 
of my life. 

I had settled down in the country to a farmer's life, 
and had, for me, a large capital at stake in that business. 
I had seen for some time statements in the press of a new 
and terrible disorder among cattle, invariably fatal and 
extremely contagious. I took but small notice of this 
till one day I was told that it had made its appearance 
about five miles away and caused the loss of several 
animals. When, further, the report came that several 
cows in a lane, five miles away in another direction, had 
died suddenly, I woke up and bestirred myself. I did 
not visit either place, but by inquiry I became satisfied 
that the rinderpest, commonly called the cattle plague, 
was in the Midlands. Shortly after this I paid a visit 
to Norfolk and met with it there, near Lowestoft, where, 
without any immediate contact, cattle on one side of a 
wide river had been fatally infected by diseased animals 
on the other side. The whole country was now fairly 
alarmed and the newspapers full of catastrophes ; entire 
herds were swept away, cowsheds were emptied, and the 
wildest and mildest suggestions made to stay the pestilence. 



A Royal Commission was appointed. Fortunately Mr. 
Robert Lowe was a member. He, above all the others, 
satisfied himself that there was no known specific for the 
plague, no reliable means of stopping contagion or in- 
fection, and that the choice lay between killing off every 
infected animal as well as those in contact with them, 
or spending vast sums on useless precautions and allowing 
all the horned stock to be exterminated by disease. I 
studied the report and the evidence, and learnt that the 
county of Aberdeen, having come to the same conclusion 
as Mr. Lowe, had adopted as a remedy the slaughter of 
diseased and infected animals with complete success ; 
and that, having interdicted the admission of animals, 
healthy or not, from outside, Aberdeen was now free from 
the plague. I set to work vigorously to advocate the 
same system in England, and to discountenance reliance 
on or even trial of other methods, such as inoculation, 
drugs, isolation, transit under authorised orders over 
railways and highways. The Times newspaper had 
declared itself hostile to Mr. Lowe's drastic proposals, 
and its columns were filled with correspondence suggesting 
other and milder treatment. I wrote, and sent what I 
thought was an admirable exposition of my views. This 
did not appear in print, so I became restless and sent a 
copy off to a famous political economist, a friend. He said 
lie knew next to nothing of the subject, but he forwarded 
my letter to one of the managers of The Times. This 
gentleman gave it consideration, saw the force of it, and 
passed it on to Delane, with an endorsement that, though 
the writer's views were entirely at variance with those 
adopted by The Times, he thought the letter ought to be 
allowed to appear in its columns ; and so it did a great 
step towards securing the adoption of my policy of 


slaughtering. I soon saw that the landowners, powerful 
as they were, were not as scared as were the tenantry, 
whose stock-in-trade and means of living were being daily 
destroyed in increasing numbers, to the extent at length 
of 17,875 in one week. I went from market to market, 
town to town, with my tale on my tongue, and in time 
got attention. Of course, the veterinary profession, 
with one rare exception, decried my crusade ; but, on the 
other hand, one agricultural society voted me forty 
guineas for advertising and arranging meetings. By 
this time, however, the subject had become one of the 
first national importance, and county meetings, summoned 
by the sheriffs, were being here and there convened. I 
attended one in the Midlands, and, in the face of the 
county leaders and chiefs, dukes, lords, squires, M.P.s, 
and a vast mob of followers, I mored amendments to all 
the cut-and-dried resolutions. The uproar was deafening. 
Certainly, very few of the disagreeable remarks I made 
could reach the ears of the audience, but I was within 
the hearing of the sheriff and the county magnates, and 
when my amendment to the last resolution was hooted 
down, I heard one of the kindest and most courteous 
peers of the realm say to a bystander, " This man knows 
something of the subject," whereupon an ex-Cabinet 
Minister, who also had been giving attention to my 
utterances, came forward and said to the now silent and 
expectant mass, " I don't think we can accept Mr. 
Pell's amendment, but if he will allow us to add it as a 
rider, I will move to hare that done." Though my 
amendment was entirely at variance with the resolution, 
I assented for another purpose. A motion I knew was 
to follow, that a deputation, including the mover and 
seconder of resolutions passed, should wait on the Premier. 


When this was about to be put, I ventured to ask that the 
author of the rider should be allowed to join in as well. 
My name was therefore added, no objection was raised, 
and I made up my mind that Lord Russell should hear 
what I had to say. 

I next arranged and carried out a great meeting of 
agriculturists in a London hall. I had been taken by 
the Whigs to one club and by the Tories to another, 
and found that I had become quite an important 
personage ; but still I had some trouble in finding 
any one of high position to take the chair. At last an 
excellent nobleman, a Whig, consented on the assur- 
ance that I, a Tory, would not make political capital 
or introduce politics at the meeting. To this I gave my 
word, and further said that as the originator and manager 
of the meeting, I and those (principally farmers) who 
acted with me had made it a stipulation to be announced 
from the chair that no Member of Parliament was to be 
allowed to address the meeting. All went off as well as 
could be desired, and the leader in The Times next morning 
was not an unfavourable one. The Government was 
drafting a Bill to be introduced at once, intended to stop 
the progress of the plague. Killing, however, was not 
its principal provision. 

Lord Russell gave the deputation, of which I was one, 
an audience, and very kindly the introducer, after others 
had had their say, suggested that I might add my re- 
marks. Upon this I at once expressed my hopes that the 
Government would follow the example set by ministers 
many years back, and take power in their Bill to suppress 
the rinderpest by slaughter. Lord Russell replied 
that this method had never been resorted to. I said it 
had on the second invasion of cattle plague, and that an 


Italian physician, writing to Sir Joseph Banks, had re- 
ferred to this treatment as a wise and efficient one adopted 
by the English people, " gens strenua ac severa," by which 
the disease had been killed out and the English herds 
saved. I was now in the confidence of some leading 
M.P.s, and with their help a Bill was drafted and 
introduced for compulsory slaughter of diseased and 
infected animals. The end of it was that a measure, 
adopted, I think, by the Government, received the 
Royal assent in a very short time, and the killing out 
commenced. This Act, the Cattle Diseases Prevention 
Act, 1866, was put in operation on February 20, 1866. 
On February 21, 17,875 were returned as attacked. 
By April 7 the numbers fell to 6,670, and in a few 
weeks to nil. 

The need for some organisation through which the 
views of tenant farmers and owners of land could be 
made known became evident, and the Central Chamber 
of Agriculture was established, with affiliated chambers 
in many of the English counties. The next year, 1867, 
a member who had, for a long time, represented an 
English county died, and those who had benefited by 
my advice and exertions in exterminating the rinderpest 
thought I might be of further service to them in Parlia- 
ment, and so I was put forward as a candidate. The 
suggestion was not received with the same lively en- 
thusiasm by the landlords generally, though I had 
willing promises of support from some of that class. A 
considerable landowner, who was also a banker of great 
wealth, was in the field at once. Before the vacancy 
he had cleverly obtained many signatures to a requisition 
inviting him to come forward from electors holding 
conservative opinions who never dreamt of a contest. 


The time for canvassing was very limited, and the registra- 
tion had been shamefully neglected by my side numbers 
were on the roll on the opposite side with qualifications 
that disappeared the following year on objections. A 
very large and important borough in the division was the 
metropolis of dissent, a radical stronghold, having in it 
1,500 county voters as freeholders. Many of the factory 
hands owned the houses in which they resided. These 
had yards with a shed or outhouse at the back, which, 
let off to neighbours and friends, conferred a county 
qualification. In another case, half a dozen were on 
the register as joint owners of one house in the borough 
town. I put out an address, and on learning that if 
I could enlist the suffrages of 500 of the borough 
freeholders I should carry the day, I turned my atten- 
tion mainly to then* views and fancies. In the end I 
polled 500 of them, but I lost the election by less than 
forty votes. 

It may be worth recording the abstract of the two 
statements of Election expenses on this occasion, as 
showing how materially they were reduced by voluntary 
assistance. Mine were approximately as published by 
the High Sheriff : 

s. d. 

Agents and expenses out of pocket . . . . 1020 

Canvassers . . . . . . . . . . . . 112 

Clerks 40 

Carriages and Horses . . . . . . . . 483 

Stationery, Printing, and Advertising . . . . 105 

Miscellaneous Claims . . . . . . . . 473 

Railway Passes . . . . . . . . . . 91 

Total . 2324 


My opponent's were : 

a. d. 

Advertising 93 

Canvassing . . . . . . . . . . 475 

Posters, Printing, Stationery 245 

Committee Rooms and Expenses . . . . 340 

Legal Agency . . . . . . . . . . 550 

Clerks and Secretary 159 

Returning Officer 233 

Registers 99 

Conveyance of Voters (further claims to pay) . . 879 

Messengers and Runners . . . . . . . . 277 

Telegrams and Postage . . . . . . . . 106 

Hotel Bills and Refreshments . . . . . . 77 

Miscellaneous Expenses . . . . . . . . 129 

Total . 3513 

The General Election was a certainty next year, so 
immediately on my defeat the county Conservatives 
held meetings for the selection of a candidate, while 
I attended the markets as a matter of business. A 
desire was expressed to bring forward a very considerable 
proprietor, a thorough gentleman, but of rather a retiring 
disposition and with hardly nerve enough for the roar 
and chaff of the hustings. This, of course, was before 
the ballot. The situation was saved, however, by 
several determined men of position stating at once that 
they should vote for me and for no one else. As the 
farmers went home from market one Saturday winter 
evening, they felt satisfied that their cause had passed 
beyond the soothing promises and flattery of agricultural 
dinners and party meetings, that it had penetrated into 
the range of practical politics, and was now under the 
charge of an advocate engaged in their own business. 

The year 1868 was a remarkably fine and hot one, most 
suitable for rural canvassing. I made a start in March, 


and before the day of nomination had canvassed person- 
ally every parish, I might almost say every voter, favour- 
able and doubtful. I purged the register of over 400 
names which had no legal claim to appear on it, and 
had the promises of support from many who had, in 
1867, been hurried into a requisition to my successful 
opponent to stand for the county, and had polled for 

The most trying feature of the canvass was not the 
unceasing moving about and speaking, or the angry and 
sometimes dangerous exhibition of hostility and temper, 
but the repeated invitations to " take something to drink," 
commencing as early as ten or eleven o'clock in the 
morning, and becoming more pressing as the day went 
on, and absolutely urgent and irresistible after sunset. 
How devoutly I wished that the prohibition of treating 
a voter had been extended by law so as to forbid the 
treating of a candidate. If, as I was told, it was impolitic 
and ungracious altogether to refuse the liquor, on one 
occasion I was much amused in making a choice. I was 
taken by my friends to pay my compliments to a farmer, 
decidedly hostile, who had, nevertheless, encouraged an 
interview. As I approached his premises in the after- 
noon of a blazing day, I saw my man from a distance 
in an open shed in his shirt-sleeves, seated on a stool, 
with a milk-pail between his knees, his head in a stove- 
pipe hat, battered by pressure against the cow's flank, 
and his hands at work as if he was playing the bagpipes. 
Milk was always a restorative with me, and I was 
tired as well as very thirsty. I was shown into the 
parlour, swept the dust off my shoes, put on a mingled 
expression of pleasure and dignity, and awaited the 
ordeal of an interview with two farming friends by my 


side. In a few minutes Mr. Smith came. He concealed 
the annoyance which I knew I should have myself 
felt, being called away from the job he had in hand, and 
disguised his extreme dislike for me and my politics 
under a treacherous smile, a violent shake of the 
hand, and the boisterous inquiry, " What will you have 
to drink ? " I said, " Mr. Smith, I am much obliged to 
you for giving me the choice. As I have no doubt you 
brought the pail into the house, I should like above 
everything, except the promise of your vote, a mug of 
milk." " Oh ! " he exclaimed, " you are very welcome ; 
but I'm damned if I vote for a man who drinks milk." 
This amused me a good deal, though it left no doubt 
as to the party to which he belonged. 

The political question exciting most interest, in the 
immediate prospect of a General Election, was the 
Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Irish Church, 
to which Mr. Gladstone was committed. The non- 
conforming community was almost entirely, with one 
or two exceptions, bitterly hostile to my party, and I 
could tell pretty accurately the number of votes they 
would record against me. The mob, however, did not 
to a man shout with my adversary. I was known to be 
a convinced Free Trader, and the people were also aware 
that I was an active promoter of distributive co-operation. 
No sooner was my address out than I found in the windows 
of provident societies, stores, and shops, as well as in 
some of the members' houses, a poster denouncing me as 
"no friend to the poor," and full of other disparaging 
statements. Going into one of the principal co-operative 
shops in the workmen's quarter, and taking the poster 
in my hands, I asked the store-keeper if he knew the 
gentleman it referred to. " Not I," was his reply ; 


" but I know he is no count." " Well," I said, " I 
do know him, and I wonder you don't, for he founded 
the eighth provident society in this county in a miserably 
poor factory village, where it seems likely to become a 
flourishing concern ; and if you will look in at a certain 
public-house not far off, you will find the secretary there, 
who will tell you all about it, and about the candidate 
of whom this poster speaks so ill. I don't think this is 
quite the place to display it." Two days after this every 
poster had been withdrawn, and I found friends among 
a powerful and exemplary class. The farmers condoned 
my Free Trade tendencies and the operatives rejoiced 
in them, so my opponent had to omit any electioneering 
remarks on these points of my belief. 

If my prospects were bright and encouraging among 
the rural voters, they were somewhat shady among the 
urban populace. Some, if not most, of the factory 
masters were decidedly hostile, and gave full effect 
to their influence as employers in securing votes for 
my opponent. Secret voting was still in the future, and 
each elector had to reckon with the consequences of his 
action at the hustings. When work was short, the stock- 
ing-frames of the framework knitters who disregarded 
the political solicitations or hints of their master stood 
silent and idle for weeks at a time. From them frame 
rents and cottage rents were collected with unusual 
promptitude ; while indulgence was shown to debtors 
who were more amenable to persuasion by the landlords 
and money-lending partisans of either side. 

On the whole, it seemed, there was very little evidence 
of flagrant corruption. I was only twice directly asked 
for a bribe to secure a vote in both cases by women and 
for a guinea, which I was told I might drop as I went out 


behind the open front door, where a mop would prevent 
any sound of its fall. The editor of a newspaper, writing 
to me that he was in need of temporary assistance to push 
its circulation during the excitement of the times, be- 
sought the loan of 10. As the person to whom a loan 
is made becomes very often an enemy, I preferred to give 
a present of 5, though I could ill afford it. 

With Mr. Gladstone's impending attack on the Irish 
Church, I could not expect anything but determined 
opposition from Nonconformists, but I believe that, 
indirectly, my position was strengthened by an incident 
that arose out of this bitter controversial conflict. A 
very able speaker who had left the dissenting com- 
munity and become an ordained minister of the Church 
of England was engaged to deliver a public address 
on the Disestablishment of the Irish Church. I was 
asked, and consented, to preside at the meeting, which 
was advertised far and wide on the walls of the town. 
The largest possible type was used for displaying the 
names of lecturer and chairman. I felt certain that 
there would be a scene and a real row. Some of my 
clerical friends who were to appear with me on the 
platform met in committee an hour before the " doors 
opened." The programme was decided on, and it was 
suggested that the meeting should open with prayer. I 
remonstrated, and warned the clergyman who proposed 
to officiate that if he got on his knees, the audience 
would, in all likelihood, not allow him to get on his legs 
again. Finally, to save time and discussion, I said that 
as soon as I was in the chair I should call on the lecturer 
to proceed with his address. 

The meeting was held in a very large hall, holding 
possibly 2,000 persons. There was the usual dais or 


platform, with orchestral benches rising tier on tier at 
the back, and there was my chair, a very heavy and 
important one, at the front. There was the pit below, 
packed with raging Radicals, and there was the gallery 
above, running along the two sides, and uniting at 
the end in a larger gallery, fitted with tiers of seats. 
In a trough below the dais was the press, with sharpened 
pens and features ; above them from the front edge 
of the dais rose several stout gas-standards with great 
jets of unprotected flame spouting from their burners. 
The dais was black with clergy of, I thought, more 
than one denomination, and none, I fancy, of even 
the rank of a rural dean. Immediately a citizen pos- 
sessed of strong lungs moved that Mr. So-and-so do take 
the chair. This was seconded. I was allowed to rise 
amid groans, but I was able to make the meeting under- 
stand that I had been advertised as chairman, and that 
I did not intend to be superseded by any resolution of 
the meeting. From that moment for two continuous 
hours, till the gathering broke up, the hall was a pande- 
monium. But in some ways it was an amusing pande- 
monium. One of the most violent disturbers was a 
citizen well known from the remarkable coincidence of 
his stores and goods having been on more than one oc- 
casion burnt, after being well covered by insurances. He 
was nearly bald, but a few stray bristles stood on end on 
his shining skull. His excitement was extravagant as he 
called on his friends to insist on appointing a chairman, 
and then branched off into denunciations of Mr. Disraeli 
and his lot. At last he had to pull up to take breath ; 
panting and with inflamed features he had climbed on 
to the very edge of the reporters' trough, and to steady 
himself he grasped with one hand the gas-standard, the 



flame of which was thus only a few inches above his bare 
head. This was an opportunity not to be lost for an 

appropriate joke. " Take care, Mr. ," shouted a 

voice from the pit, " you will set your hah* on fire, and 
you know that is not insured." The orator subsided at 

By degrees my clerical friends left the platform and 
were replaced by the mob. Among them I noticed 
thirteen men dressed somewhat alike, with greasy caps 
on their heads. They edged their way together till they 
surrounded me, intending, as I thought, to force me out 
of the chair. Their leader got so close that his elbow 
touched mine. The noise and clamour were deafening. 
That I did not mind ; my first object now was to keep 
the chair. How could I best do it ? Taking the collar 
of the leader, I drew his head down near mine, and then 
said to him, " I want to tell you that if the attempt is 
made to drag me out, whatever may come of it, I will 
certainly kill you." " Lord," he said, " kill me ! Why, 

I and my pals are here to protect you. We are from 

[the next county town]. We don't believe in any 
Church or God either. We want the reverend gent to 
make his speech, and then I mean to follow and upset 
him. You keep where you are." By this time, how- 
ever, the reverend gent was wisely stooping down over 
the trough and delivering his speech condensed to the 
reporters. I shouted to him, " It's all over; let us go." 
He was quite composed, and, beginning to move off, I 
joined him with some cheers, and, escorted by the 
thirteen disciples of Mr. Bradlaugh, as the gas was 
being turned down, got into the street and away. 

Though the Established Church in Ireland did not gain 
much by this meeting, it gave me a good introduction 


to the non-electors. I had committed myself by no 
indiscreet speech ; and while the Conservative newspapers 
filled the column with the lecturer's address, all the 
opposition one had to say was that their readers must 
be convinced by my conduct, by my contemptuous 
disregard of the acknowledged right of the meeting to 
choose the chairman, and by my obstinacy in claiming 
and retaining that office, that I had prevented an intelli- 
gent and orderly gathering of the citizens from the 
enjoyment of what promised to be an instructive evening, 
and proved how utterly unfit I was to represent any 
constituency in Parliament. 

The election came on shortly after this, the canvass 
was completed, the hustings erected. I was hi good 
spirits, and really looked forward with pleasure to meeting 
the people face to face at the nomination. A good deal 
of betting was going on on the event, the cattle people, 
graziers and butchers, laying freely in my favour, and 
they were an important body, attending as they did all 
markets, and frequenting inns, public-houses, and railway 
carriages. I was elected by a considerable majority, 
girt with a sword as knight of the shire, and again put in 
an appearance on the hustings with my loyal colleague. 
What I remember best was the beaming faces of those 
who had won their bets. One very cherry-cheeked 
butcher, in his delight, kissed a perspiring chimney-sweep, 
leaving a round white spot where his ecstatic lips had 
absorbed the soot. A body of police had been sent to 
escort the two M.P.s away, but there was no occasion 
for such precaution. After my return, not before, I 
received very generous offers of contributions towards 
election expenses from all classes. I declined them all, 
though much needed, believing that by accepting I 


might part with my political freedom. Subsequent ex- 
perience convinced me that M.P.s who were subscribed 
for (I do not say nominees of influential men) were placed 
in a somewhat servile position. 

This was in the last week of November. Parliament 
was to meet on December 10, 1868, and at two o'clock 
on that day my colleague, giving my name, passed me 
in with an old schoolfellow, the member for another 
division of my county, who sat on one side of me. On 
the other side was a friend, Mr. Clare Sewell Read, M.P. 
for Norfolk ; opposite was Mr. McCombie, of Aberdeen, 
old, shaggy, and thoughtful. I shook hands with Mr. 
George Ward Hunt, who congratulated me, and the 
Speaker was chosen. On the llth I took the oath and 
then went down to my farming business in the country. 

Before the year closed I made the acquaintance of Dr. 
Magee, recently appointed to the Bishopric of Peter- 
borough. We travelled into the county town together, 
where he was to consecrate a new church. We took to 
each other at once the new Bishop and the new M.P. 
He questioned me about clerical differences and conten- 
tions, which had become very acute in the town, and 
said he knew the Low Church party had gone so far as 
to bring down a famous Evangelical to expound from 
the pulpit not a bad card, he thought. " Oh ! " I said, 
" Bishop, the High Church soon trumped that card with 
an ace, in the person of Mr. Macconochie." " Aye," 
he bounced out, " you may call it the ace, but I assure 
ye," with an Irish eye and tongue, " it played the deuce 
with the Church." Then he turned his head suddenly 
away to the window, as if he thought he was not discreet 
in being so unreserved with a stranger. We became 
great friends. I saw his attention fixed on a large 


inscription on a factory, " Elastic Web Factory," in a 
street we passed through to the new church. There we 
separated : he for the pulpit ; I for the pew, to hear for the 
first time his moving eloquence. I forget the text, but 
not the sermon. The subject was a not unkind or un- 
charitable illustration of the characteristics of the Esta- 
blished Church and the varied doctrines of Noncon- 
formists. The one he likened to a knitted garment warm 
and elastic, fitting itself to all the members and move- 
ments of the human being, and as age wore it away still 
with its last fibres clinging closely to the wearer. The 
other, he said, serviceable as it was when of good material, 
had to follow a fashion in its make ; the disciple had to 
be measured and the garment was put together in pieces 
with stitches. When these, not always strong, gave way, 
the garment became comfortless, and bit by bit dis- 

Talking of our coming into Parliament together, I 
said that the part I had taken in local duties as 
a constable (special), overseer of the poor, surveyor of 
highways, churchwarden, guardian, justice of the peace, 
and the time and thought spent in the business of farm- 
ing, and in the care of very humble land property, had 
really been a good preparation for the House of Commons, 
especially as, on the subjects that interested me, I had 
been, as well, a persistent reader of books. The Bishop 
thought this training was valuable, and that his own had 
been so also, and added, " When I look along the bench 
of my reverend brothers in the House of Lords, learned 
as they are, I feel that many have had but a limited ex- 
perience of the life and practice of a clergyman in its great 
variety, while I reflect that it was my lot, as one of the 
" inferior clergy," to fill many posts curate in Ireland, 


and in my steps upwards even running a venture chapel in 
a fashionable watering-place, where my faculty of ex- 
pressing myself stood me in good stead. But here I 
am in lawn sleeves, and mitre if I choose to wear it, and 
call to mind my first charge in Tipperary. I had just 
been ordained, and began to go round to make acquaint- 
ance with my people. I came on one digging his potato 
patch. ' A fine day, and luck to you ! ' I began. ' It 
is fine land, anyhow, you are on really good now.' ' Ah ! 
your Riverince,' was the immediate reply, ' bedad, it 
is that. If the prophet Jeremiah had had but one acre 
of it, he never could have written that book of Lamen- 
tations. ' : 

On February 15, 1869, was the opening of Parliament 
a most beautiful spring day. I walked to the House in 
good time for the Queen's Speech. There was a great 
crush, and all seemed strange and almost riotous to 
me. It was public-school life over again. I fell in with 
no acquaintance in the central lobby, but was struck with 
the civility and attentions of the police. At last the 
procession started from the Commons, headed by the 
Speaker in his robes and his train-bearer. I joined in 
the rush pursuing him, giving him, as a witty little paper, 
The Owl, reported, very little " law." I got a good 
start, elbowing, I make no doubt, many distinguished 
persons, and was brought up with much vehemence 
against the bar of the House of Lords almost alongside 
of Mr. Speaker. As her Majesty was not on the throne, 
I paid no attention to the speech, but looking round, 
found an old schoolfellow "Little Glyn" we called him 
at Rugby at my elbow. He had been our " hare " at 
" hare and hounds," and a happy thought came into 
my mind- I was so pinned by the Speaker on one side 


and Glyn on the other that I could not shake hands with 
him. Thirty years, however, had not effaced the recollec- 
tion of his running powers and the breathless chases I 
had made after him, so I said to him, " Here we are again, 
and I will run you for sixpence back to the door of the 
Commons." " Done ! " was his cheerful reply. So, 
giving time for Mr. Speaker and his crew to get back 
to the House, we started fair, and tore like pickpockets 
through the crowd of gazing strangers ; the police had 
not time nor presence of mind to shout " Make way for 
members " till we pulled up with a jerk at the door of 
the House, startling the old white-headed guardian out of 
his senses. From that moment, however, I was known 
to the officials and police as the new member. I took 
my seat that day below the gangway, but next to it. 

On March 1 I heard Mr. Gladstone speak in the debate 
on the Irish Church. I was much impressed by the 
eloquent peroration, as well as by the way in which it was 
delivered. The gesture, the sort of inspiration in its 
utterance, and the unhesitating flow of his arguments 
smote me. I had never set eyes on him till I entered 
Parliament, and I watched and examined so great an 
object of interest with the closest attention. I mar- 
velled at the construction of many of the sentences, their 
length, precision, and obscurity till, at the close, out came 
the governing verb or phrase, the key to his idea. It 
was to me a strain to follow him, and I much preferred 
Mr. Bright's style. I thought Mr. Gladstone, as he stood 
at the table, was a fine specimen of physical power and 
vigour, and the least I liked about him were his features. 
I thought then, and to the end of his day, that they were 
those of a rather acrid Nonconformist. I was a little 
afraid of him, too. Once on a fine summer day, in walk- 


ing up Regent Street, I found him in front of me. We 
were both quick walkers, and as I followed I was struck 
with the firm, manly step and the muscular action that 
his dress could not conceal. No one seemed to recog- 
nise him except a cabman, who pointed at him with his 
whip. He held on his course as steadily as an American 
liner till we reached the circus. I was making for 
Portland Place, so crossed Oxford Circus with him. On 
the other, the north side, was a shop, all the windows of 
which were filled with sponges, nothing else whatever 
was exhibited. Opposite this he pulled up dead, and 
gazed with intense curiosity at the sponges ; he was as 
fixed and rapt as a cat at a canary in its cage. I went 
on, leaving him motionless on the pavement. 

The late Mr. Bagehot, on hearing that Mr. Gladstone 
composed his speeches on his legs, remarked, " No 
doubt, for it is the only leisure time Gladstone has at his 
disposal." Mr. Bagehot was an impartial critic, for of 
Gladstone's great rival he said, " Disraeli's chaff is 
excellent, his corn is worthless." 

Mr. Vernon Harcourt (afterwards Sir William) en- 
tered Parliament at the same time as myself. He sat 
below the gangway opposite to me. He was a fine, tall 
figure in a frock-coat, with a bit of his white handkerchief 
peeping out of his breast pocket. He spoke with arro- 
gance and assurance, rather too pompously, I thought ; 
but there was matter and wit in what he said. We began 
a long acquaintance and friendship in rather a singular 
incident. A member on a select committee on which 
Harcourt was serving was taken ill, and I was ordered 
to fill his place. The Bill under consideration was a 
Birds' Preservation Bill, and when I joined, half the 
clauses had been settled. A messenger conducted me 


to the room, and, as soon as I entered, a chair was pointed 
out to me, and I sat down in utter ignorance of my duties 
and the forms of procedure. A clerk brought me the Bill, 
and pointed with his finger to the clause under discussion. 
Mr. Beresf ord Hope sat next me with a little book of birds 
in his hand, illustrated. Most of the members, I noticed, 
had similar books. I looked at the clause, and was 
astonished to find that it was made penal for any one to be 
found in possession of a defunct scheduled bird. The 
chairman, too, was asking, " Any other amendment ? " 
Every one seemed complacent and satisfied. I was not, 
and said so in a bungling way. The chairman seemed 
irritated, but asked me pointedly, Had I any amendment 
to move ? adding that as the clause had been gone through, 
the amendment must come at the end of it. " Well, 
sir," I said, " yes, I have," and was told I should write it 
down and hand it up, which I did in these words, " un- 
less the bird shall have died by the visitation of God." 
He frowned over this, and asked whether I really meant 
it. I said, "Undoubtedly." So he read it out and put it to 
the committee. In a moment Harcourt left his chair, 
hurried round, and forcing himself in between me and 
Beresf ord Hope, whispered, " That will do ! Stick to it ! 
They're a damned lot of prigs ! " He gave the amend- 
ment all his support, and the clause went to pieces. 

Harcourt well knew that one road to office was by skil- 
fully tormenting your own party, not by voting, but in 
debate. The Government introduced and carried a 
Conspiracy Bill, the principle of which was that a com- 
bination of persons to carry out an object was not per se 
illegal, and that conspiracy consisted in persons com- 
bining to do that which it was illegal for one person to do 
individually. At this time a new bye-law was hi force, 


making the use of soap in bathing in the Serpentine an 
offence. Harcourt, rising with much gravity, opposed the 
Bill (really an excellent one), and with his arms folded, 
turned towards the Treasury Bench and ridiculed the pro- 
posal, asking the Home Secretary whether, as it was illegal 
for one person to bathe in the Serpentine with soap, he 
seriously intended that the fact of two gentlemen uniting 
in the purchase of one cake of soap for use between 
them in that water should constitute conspiracy. I 
forget the answer he got, if any, but this sally gave 
us some relaxation in the midst of hours of prosy 

I was embarrassed by the number of circulars sent to 
me upon every sort of subject, as well as by lithographed 
and written correspondence, many on subjects with 
which I was wholly unacquainted. I consulted a friend 
of some experience, and he said they might be serviceable 
if I answered on a postcard headed, "House of Commons." 
The village post-office and the letter-priers there would 
learn that I was in my place attending to my public 
duties and the interests of the county. I refused all 
requests to allow my name to appear on appeals as a 
patron, and never entered a bazaar. I once, however, 
had to pay 19s. for a telegram following me on a can- 
vassing tour, pressing me to come at once to a bazaar 
where my opponent was making himself exceedingly 

A prosy, opinionated member on his legs caused 
his hearers much irritation, and many were the 
devices used to get rid of him. These, however, had 
little or no effect on some of the old hands. Their 
speeches, having probably festered for some days in their 
minds, when the opportunity came, were delivered with 


infinite satisfaction and relief to themselves. Still, I 
was amazed at their indifference to the reiterated shouts 
of " Divide ! divide ! " separated by a lull from another 
gusty volley. This was kept up at regular intervals 
till the orator had completed his innings. I then better 
appreciated a story I had been told some years before 
about Sir John Bowring, who was a terrible talker. The 
Khedive of Egypt had more than once suffered under his 
prolixity, but having visited the House of Commons, when 
Sir John at a subsequent meeting commenced as usual, 
the Khedive in despair began exclaiming " Divide ! 
divide ! " and persisted till he reduced Sir John to 



IN 1869 there was great distress down the River Thames 
at Poplar, owing to the closing of two large shipbuilding 
yards Dudgeons', I think, was one. This threw a large 
number of men out of work. Many of them had been farm 
labourers, and had left the land for better pay as riveters 
in the railway works at Ashford. Thence the most 
skilled had migrated with better prospects to the ship- 
building yards, and for a while were making substantial 
incomes and renting comfortable houses. At last, 
however, the crash came, and nothing could be earned. 
The days for Mansion House funds and other ventures 
for generally endowing the unemployed had not yet come. 
Unostentatious beneficence instead came to the rescue 
in such serious calamities as this, and a few families 
of birth and distinction took upon themselves the re- 
sponsibility and charge of giving these people a fresh 
start in life. They decided that this would be best 
done by enabling the men and their families to emigrate 
to Canada, for which they provided, if my memory serves 
me, a fund of some thousand pounds. From my acquaint- 
ance and connection with that district of London it was 
thought well to apply to me to act as almoner, and I was 
satisfied with the assurance that the aid would be given 
in this way only and that its bestowal would be made 
only after my personal inquiry into each case. 

I commenced with a notice to applicants that I would 


attend at a district church every Thursday and meet a given 
number there. On their arrival I took the names and 
allotted a pew to each case, keeping them well apart. The 
interview took place in the vestry, where I entered all 
the particulars, as given me, in writing. Further in- 
dependent inquiry corroborated the statements, some 
of which were remarkable. I pressed all to inform 
me how they lived apart from debt since they had failed 
of employment. One man told me, " On a mirror." 
His little home had been well furnished with an imposing 
mirror above the mantel-piece. This was one of the 
first sacrifices to want, and brought in over a pound. 
Several had musical instruments. Such superfluities 
were parted with before the furniture, and last of all the 
bedding went. As soon as I was able to decide on a 
case, I gave the applicant a certificate, which he presented 
to the secretary of the fund, and then family batches 
were made up and conveyed to the Midland Railway 
station, whence under the charge of one of the con- 
tributors, a lady, they went on to Liverpool and were 
put on board an Allan Line steamboat, with which 
company a contract had been made for their conveyance 
to Canada. 

When I had gone through and disposed of all the 
cases submitted to me, on the last day, as I was 
leaving the church, a woman came in. Her dress 
and manner and her complexion were unlike any of 
those I had been seeing. She at once said she hoped 
I would be able to give her help, as she was a widow 
with no means. Her late husband, she said, was a 
" vanner " (like Mrs. Jarley). There were no children, 
and under need she had parted with horse and van. She 
was very good-looking and outspoken. I explained 


at once to her that the money I had at my disposal 
was intended for a particular purpose and class, and that 
indeed it was all gone. She pleaded very earnestly 
for help, adding that she. could begin life again in Canada 
with a certain prospect of independence, and " Oh ! 
pray, pray, sir, give me a start ! " 

That meant putting down 6, which I could not afford, 
but I told her I might spare 3, and would see if 
any one would make it up to 6. The name of Mr. 
Samuel Morley, M.P., was in men's mouths as a bountiful 
philanthropist, so I determined to begin with him. As I 
did not know him even by sight, the doorkeeper pointed 
him out, and I went at once to him in the midst of a 
debate. It was an awkward thing to manage. I began 
with my name and apologies, and at once I took the 
great liberty of asking his assistance in a case which I 
thought justified my doing so. He was a little restless ; 
so I went on at once to say that 6 was wanted, 
and that I would give half. " Well," he said, " I cannot 
attend to you now, but I will join you with 3, 
and at some other time tell me the circumstances." I 
at once secured and paid the passage for the woman, 
and a few weeks afterwards, meeting Mr. Morley in the 
lobby, I told him the circumstances and how this woman 
had come to appeal to me. He at once paid me the 3, 
and then added that he was so well satisfied with the 
emigration scheme that he would give me 100 
towards it ; but I told him all had been done that was 
needed, and I could not accept his generous offer. This 
seemed to astonish him as something beyond his ex- 
perience in begging methods. 

In September of this year (1869) with a friend, another 
M.P., I went over to Ireland to make myself better ac- 


quainted with the land question. We had excellent in- 
troductions to some of the most important properties. 
The day after we reached Dublin there was to be a large 
auction of pedigree and other rams, which we attended 
for the opportunity it afforded of meeting many leading 
farmers and breeders. The auctioneer's commendations 
of the lots as they came in the ring were most amusing. 
I remember he dwelt some time on the perfections of 
one huge sheep (short-woolled), the chief of which was 
the closeness of his fleece, impervious to wet. " You 
see him, gentlemen," he shouted. " He gets up in the 
morning after the wettest night, shakes himself, and 
makes his toilet in a moment." 

That afternoon we left Dublin by rail in a third- 
class carriage. Our companions were two natives, 
each possessed of the national weapon and excited by 
the national drink. They began at once a discussion 
as to whether they were in a " mail " train or no, 
of course taking opposite views. Neither would 
yield, and there was a good deal of violent action, 
ending before long by their getting on their legs and 
grasping their shillelaghs to give emphasis to their 
assertions. My friend and I cowered in the farthest 
corners, but just at this crisis, one of them, putting his 
blackthorn under his arm, appealed to demonstration 
as conclusive. " Are ye denying it ? " he said. " I 
am," says the other with a scowl. " Well, then, I'll 
prove to you. Put a stamp on your forehead and see 
if ye are not flung out at the next station for a letter." 
In a moment they became the best of friends, but we 
changed our carriage at the next stop. 

I took a fancy to the Douay priests we met at dinner at 
friends' houses, but not at all to the Maynooths. The 


former were, of course, very witty, and not intolerant. In 
my simplicity I then thought that, on the disendowment 
of the Irish Church, some of its funds would have been 
well applied to the permanent income of these ministers of 
religion, and I think so still ; but the dominant assurance 
and conceit of the Protestant community made that out 
of the question. I heard much of the withholding by 
parishioners of the dues that formed so large a part of 
the income of the priest. One charming gentleman 
mentioned a grievous defaulter who had the means to 
pay, but did not, and how he successfully dealt with him. 
After describing in his sermon the everlasting joys of 
heaven and contrasting them with the anguish of the 
condemned, he drew a picture of the departed Christian 
presenting himself at the portals of heaven and seeking 
admittance. After several knocks at the portals, the 
blessed Peter from the inside demanded, " Who is there ? " 
" Patrick Brophy," was the reply, and Patrick was in 
an ecstasy when he heard the key put in the lock ; but 
before it was turned another question came, " Are ye 
the Patrick Brophy of Ballyfoil, County Mayo, that did 
not pay your priest his dues ? " "I am that." Then 
as the key was withdrawn came the awful doom, " You'll 
not enter here." The next morning the dues were paid. 
A very burly priest on a steamboat on Lough Corrib before 
going ashore assured me that his flock were more causes 
of anxiety to him than " sources of emolument." 

I had made several previous visits to Ireland, one 
as early as in 1833, though that was confined to Ulster ; 
another to Tipperary in 1843 or 1844. The country 
struck me as little altered, except by the great reduction 
of its population and the consequent abandonment of 
small potato patches which had tumbled down to grass 


and moss in melancholy ridges on the boggy land. 
Though I did not see any " drawing by the tail," I did see 
a woman and a cow attached, side by side, to a harrow, 
which they together dragged over the furrows, while 
the husband leant against a broken fence smoking a 
pipe. The pigs were charming as house-holders, paying 
the rent ; with their intelligence and independence they 
had better qualification for the suffrage than some of 
their owners. The horned cattle had much improved. 
The old Irish stock, with the mixture of dull yellow, 
brown, and black in streaks down its ungainly ribs, 
was much less in evidence, and was giving place to 
the richly coloured shorthorn, while the native black 
Kerry cattle held their own in improved condition and 
numbers. The Border Leicester sheep were spreading 
over the districts suited to them, and especially favoured 
Roscommon. The queer custom of building, by the 
roadside, two imposing pillars of stone at the approach 
to a very insignificant mansion, standing at the end 
of a broken avenue of wind-twisted trees, was almost 
universal. Sometimes a gate hung on one hinge from 
these derelict posts, but as frequently they stood alone, 
and hardly ever did a fence flank them on either side. 
This useless apparatus has its parallel in the United 
States, where, on the illimitable and uninhabited prairie, 
at intervals of some miles, a balanced bar swings by 
the side of the unfenced railway track, with a notice 
in large letters, " Beware of the cars." At these spots, 
too, to complete the farce, the driver has to sound the 
big bell on the engine to warn the wilderness of danger. 
We paid a most interesting visit of some days to Mr. 
Philip Reade at his place, Woodpark, County Clare, 
on the shore of Lough Derg. Our host was a fine, tall 



man advanced in years, a Tory, and a friend of the Duke 
of Wellington. There could be no better example of 
a loyal resident land-owner, with a fine estate in Clare 
and Galway, discharging in a resolute manner all 
the duties belonging to that position. His description 
of the state of things in the troubled times, when the 
great famine of 1847 was killing off his people like flies, 
was beyond measure distressing. We went with him 
by railway to Killaloe, and thence in his carriage along 
the shores of Lough Derg to Scariff, his next parish, 
where, he told us, 6,000 persons were buried, the victims 
of famine, in two parishes alone. He had been en- 
gaged in the measures taken to save life by relief funds. 
They did not seem altogether the best that could be 
devised, as the dole of meal was accompanied by the 
exaction of labour. On the shore of the lough we saw 
pyramids of stones at spaces of some hundred yards, 
and it was required of the miserable, starving creatures, 
as a test of destitution, that they should carry, one by 
one, all the stones of one heap to form another, and so 
back again. Thus when all the sustenance of the meal 
should have been husbanded to keep the flame of life 
alight, much of it was exhausted and wasted in the 
support of muscular action. In spite of his persevering 
devotion to his people's rescue, he had been shot at 
through his dining-room window and fired at again, 
as he lay, till seven slugs were in or through his body, 
two touching his lungs. He was saved by a courageous 
cook dragging him through the door into the hall, and 
he survived to be a hearty old man. Two land-agents 
dined with us as his guests one evening. One told me 
his father had been shot, but not killed. 

Ten years ago a cruel murder happened at the 


village close to Woodpark. An attorney, a lawyer 
of Dublin, had a small property there, and he was 
in the habit of making an annual excursion, to 
visit it and stay for some days' holiday as a 
lodger in the village. One day, on the woman of 
the house failing (probably intentionally) to fetch the 
milk for tea, he went out with a jug in his hand, and, 
crossing the green in the full daylight and in sight of 
all the surrounding houses, he was attacked by a band, 
struck down, and his head beaten into the soft turf, 
leaving its impression there when he was removed, 
as Mr. Reade himself saw. The news of the murder 
reached him speedily, and feeling sure that the poor 
fellow's cattle would be " lifted," he at once took men 
with him, some mounted, to give chase. The place 
was as quiet as if nothing had happened, with the dead 
body still on the green. The cattle were followed for 
some miles and recovered. There was an inquest, but 
I think nothing came of it. In a day or two the widow 
arrived to bury her husband. The coffin was made, 
and in it the corpse was taken by her for burial to 
the parish churchyard. There a mob met them, and 
drove away the funeral from two graveyards. Nothing 
remained but to take the body in a boat to Holy Island, 
in Lough Derg, and there, among the ruins of the seven 
churches with the fine round tower in their centre, it 
was laid to rest. Even then the tragedy was not com- 
plete nor vindictiveness fully satisfied. In a month or 
so a headstone came from Dublin with the name and age 
of the victim inscribed thereon, and a statement on it 
that he had been murdered. Thereupon an announce- 
ment was made that, unless that record was obliterated, 
the body would be dug up and thrown into the lough, 


and the stone with it. The stone was removed and 
replaced by an inoffensive one which I myself saw, 
stating that the murdered man departed this life, 
aged 39. 

Two young Irish ladies, sisters or cousins, came to 
stay the night. Their education had been completed 
in a convent ; they were both heiresses, were very well 
informed, spoke French well, and I dare say played the 
Irish harp. They were beautifully dressed and just 
coming out in the world, to fit them for which no care 
had been spared. I had the honour of taking one in to 
dinner, my friend the other. When I came to mention 
my visit to Holy Island, she turned towards me and 
said in a very serious way, " Oh ! I know all about that 
story. I was a child then, but I went to see the place 
the day after, and there was quite a hole where his head 
had been driven in. I think he deserved to be mur- 
dered. He had turned out widows." This from the 
mouth of a quiet girl, just out of a convent school, 
uttered in the conversation at the dinner-table of her 
host, seemed perfectly natural to the other guests and 
called for no remark. My friend had the other young 
lady for his companion at table. When the party 
broke up, I went to his bedroom to tell him how I had 
been startled, and then he informed me of what had 
passed between him and his heiress. He had been saying 
what a pleasant prospect was before her, and how she 
must be looking forward to a season in London ; upon 
which he was promptly brought up by her declaration 
that she never wanted to see London. She would not 
mind Paris, but felt she should like New York vastly. 

On February 15, 1870, Mr. Gladstone introduced his 
Irish Land Bill in a speech of three hours' length, to 


which I listened with wonder and surprise. Then began 
in the House of Commons his wild Irish career, which 
terminated some years after in his Home Rule surrender, 
which wrecked the Liberal Party, and caused the defection 
of their best men, Hartington, Goschen, Forster, and 

A month afterwards I attended a great meeting of 
Conservative members called together at the house 
of Lord Lonsdale in Carlton Terrace. The Owl 
gave a delightful account of this gathering. It began 
by describing the excitement of the party, the run 
on the old brown sherry at the Carlton, and the 
animation of all who hurried to the " meet " ; how 
when they reached the fine room upstairs, the new 
members betrayed their want of acquaintance with 
such an imposing function ; how they were diffident 
of approaching the green baize-covered table, behind 
which were arranged the seats for their leader, an ex- 
Cabinet Minister ; how the old hands irreverently made 
jokes during the delay ; how they offered odds that 
Sir George Jenkinson (like myself, a new member) 
would be the first to speak, and the odds were taken 
freely ; how then, as many hung back in a cluster at 
the rear, overcome with modesty, Lord John Manners 
with much courtesy explained that there were empty 
chairs in front and invited them to come forward. 
How on this, those who had betted against Jenkinson at 
once declared that this was a speech and claimed their 
money ; how in the midst of the consequent wrangle and 
hubbub the door opened, and Mr. Disraeli confronted his 
defeated party ; finally, how, after his encouraging 
utterances, we all hurried away and at the foot of the 
staircase nearly knocked over the tall figure of a quiet, 


military-looking old gentleman who was no less than the 
owner of the house. 

On that day, or shortly after, I dined, as I seldom did, 
at the House. The party of members at the table was 
very characteristic. There was a tenant farmer who 
had turned out the representative of the chief land-owner 
in the county from his hereditary seat ; there was his 
friend, myself, quite a small person, paddling my own 
canoe ; and there was also the very clever and wealthy 
member for a Lancashire borough, who in his younger 
days had hacked out coal in a pit. As I did not like 
the potatoes, I complained to the waiter, saying they 
were bad : the " collier " did not agree with me ; so 
to silence him, I said, " I know they are, for I grow 
potatoes." To this he replied, " Just so ; but I have 
cooked them, and it's the cooking that's bad. When I 
made a home and married, the wife did the cooking, 
but when the children came, I had to look after the 
saucepan myself." 

I had for another acquaintance in Parliament a 
very considerable colliery-owner and contractor, who 
had important engagements abroad. When the statue 
of Disraeli was unveiled, I was one of the crowd 
of public men who clustered round the figure, and 
Lord John Manners (now the Duke of Rutland), 
touching me on the shoulder, pointed with his finger 
to this bright-eyed, burly man and said, " There, he 
has more influence that any duke among us." He, not 
the duke, was the only man in the Carlton who then 
could drink his bottle of port. He began by saying, 
" Let us dine together, and I will give you a bottle of 
the best port in the club. I followed it by ordering a 
second ; then I said, " I will toss you for the third," to 


which his reply was invariably, " No, I have too much 
business to do." 

Port wine is the only wine worth drinking for drink- 
ing's sake not tawny stuff, not sweet or insipid, but 
real old (say thirty years), of a good vintage, not to 
be gulped down, but to be dwelt upon and held on 
the palate awhile before it is swallowed. Champagne 
is good, when one is fagged out. The first glass then is 
divine; a second may be allowed ; the third is just guzzling. 
But after all, in my case there was no quicker or more 
effectual restorative than milk. The late Dr. Watson 
said to my mother that if a man could drink milk, his 
life was ten years better than that of another with whom 
it did not agree. I could go for a great many hours 
without food in the House of Commons, never touching 
anything between breakfast at ten at the Carlton and 
dinner there at half-past eight or nine. I hardly ever 
used a cab, and never wore a great-coat. In grouse 
shooting behind setters I carried nothing with me but 
a morsel of oatcake, and a modicum of old whiskey which 
I sipped undiluted. Anything more, I fancied, spoilt my 
shooting. When walking in Switzerland or over the 
lovely North-country fells and hills, I took an orange 
in my knapsack. This I rolled and pummelled till it 
was soft inside, then, making a small hole through the 
peel, I dropped in some best brandy and sucked it ; then 
poured in more of the spirit and had another " taste," 
and so on till all the juice was gone. If the day was 
hot, I put my orange in a mountain spring to ice it, 
or in the snow, if there was any handy. In Switzerland 
and Italy I could generally add some fruit. Anything 
was better than meat or beer. 

On the Scotch moors my pleasantest companion 


was the late Lord Aberdare a good shot and a 
splendid walker. Though I was not a slow goer, he 
would walk round me with ease. Gordon setters, the 
duke's gift to our host, were our dogs. On the 
ground we went over, twenty brace were considered 
a good day's sport, with a fair mixture of snipe ducks 
and now and then a curlew or golden plover. It was 
a treat at mid-day when we halted near a spring, and 
he would gladden me with his delightful anecdotes. 
One about the St. Kilda folk should not be lost. When 
he was Home Secretary, bitter dissension arose, even 
in that diminutive community, between Free Kirk and 
Established Kirk. As it concerned endowment, a petition 
was forwarded to the Government for a commissioner 
to be sent out to settle matters. When the suppliants 
heard that their request would be granted and a brig 
would land the commissioner, weather permitting, at 
the rock, a second petition promptly arrived, expressing 
gratitude and praying that as they were very short of 
women, the opportunity might be taken of sending 
eight, I think, was the number, with the commissioner. 
It was a sensible request, for owing to close intermarriages 
most of the infants died a few days after birth. 

The island furnishes a good illustration of Darwin's law 
of natural selection, variation of structure, and survival 
of the fittest. The people's livelihood depends on the 
capture of the sea birds on the cliffs, which is done by 
climbing. If a young man cannot climb, neither can 
he marry ; the test is the mastery of a particularly 
difficult and hazardous " stack," which at one spot 
can only be done by the climber placing his thumb in 
a small notch in the rock and by this hook alone raising 
his body sufficiently to bring his other limbs into play 

ST. KILDA 233 

to complete the ascent. I am told that this singular 
effort for generations has resulted in the hereditary 
development of a St. Kilda thumb of an unusually 
muscular character. When I first visited the Hebrides 
all the coin in St. Kilda amounted to but 4s. 9d., and the 
rent was paid in feathers and fulmar oil, conveyed once 
a year from the island in the collier which supplied the 
tenants with fuel. 

When Lord Sherbrooke (then Mr. Lowe) was a 
guest at Dunvegan Castle, he was much put out by the 
delivery of letters being only at intervals of three days ; 
but as he was at the time Postmaster-General, he made 
speedy use of his authority to carry a wire from the 
mainland to the post-office at Kilmuir. Before long, 
this was carried on, under the sea, to Lochmaddy and 
the outer islands. Mr. Lowe used to declare that he 
could discern St. Kilda some 60 miles away from 
Skye, through the little eyelets in his " spoon " 

The drought in 1870 was excessive. It had been 
remarkable in 1868, but this year was hotter and drier. 
The grass did not furnish sufficient food for the live-stock, 
and we had to lop the trees for fodder. In 1868 Disraeli 
was posing as an agriculturist, and was to be seen, spud 
in hand, dressed in a velveteen lounge coat with long 
gaiters drawn over his trousers, side by side or arm in 
arm with my friend Mr. Jack Fowler, of Aylesbury, a 
noted agriculturist with considerable literary ability. 
Disraeli was playing up to this assumed character in 
his political speeches of that date delivered in Bucking- 
hamshire. He dealt, of course, as all politicians love 
to do (though I do not think he loved it) on the homes 
and conditions of the agricultural labourer, insisting 


that his felicity depended on his possessing a pig, a 
porch, and a third alliterative blessing which escapes 
my memory, and in generous and flamboyant terms he 
consoled the farmers in after-dinner speeches by reminding 
them that though the pastures were scorched up, they 
had " the nutritious and juicy turnip " to rely on. 
This was drawing too much on the imagination of his 
audience, as there was not a turnip in the kingdom the 
size of a walnut. But all this was excused, and though 
it was a surprise to the Carlton, he was duly returned for 
the county of Buckinghamshire. 

I became acquainted with Mr. George Moore, the head 
of the house of Copestake, Moore & Crampton in Bow 
Churchyard. He was a great benefactor to many 
good causes, and he permitted me, as an East Londoner, 
to see him frequently and take counsel with him ; and 
I had the entree of his private business rooms in Cheapside, 
as well as a welcome to the mid-day meal (there in an 
upstairs room, which was laid out) for the country buyers, 
the members and managers of the firm, and there I met 
all classes of public men, political, clerical, philanthropical. 
When Moore had made up his mind to support any 
object he had at heart, he was not content with half 
measures, and made sure of its success by very large 
contributions of money, after having thoroughly satisfied 
himself of the amount needed. One day when I was 
with him he said, " I want you to dine with me in Palace 
Gardens next week. I have something in hand that 
will require a large fund to carry it through, and I am 
asking some friends whose assistance I can rely on and 
who are in a position to help. They know the object 
and its merits, so our conversation at dinner will not 
be taken up with explanation or solicitation." " Oh 


dear ! " I said, " Mr. Moore, I shall be entirely out of place 
there. I have very little money at disposal, and what 
I have is bespoken." He replied that he quite under- 
stood my case, that he expected nothing from me, but 
he would still like me to be one of the party. So on 
a brilliant summer evening I cut the House of Commons 
and went. I knew one or two of the guests, and I found 
the card for my seat was next his own on the left side. 
On his right was Mr. Coope, the rich brewer and member 
for Middlesex. After an excellent English dinner, 
without any loss of time, the wine was put on the table, 
and then Moore, taking a memorandum out of his pocket 
said, " I think you all know the reason of our coming 
together this evening, and I believe that all at the table 
feel as I do, that a strong endeavour will have to be 
made to attain what we desire. Now, Coope, I think 
I may put you down for 4,000." Mr. Coope emptied 
his glass of port and made no sign of dissent ; but there 
was a slight tremor among the wine-glasses on the table, 
which I imputed to a convulsive movement in the lower 
limbs of the assembled philanthropists. Moore pencilled 
the amount on the memorandum, and passed on to the 
next, naming each man's subsidy and coming round guest 
by guest, till at last he reached me, when, to my 
great relief, he replaced the paper in his pocket. As 
the party was breaking up, Mr. Moore asked me to stay 
awhile with him. The evening was very warm, and we 
sat together for some time at an open window overlooking 
Kensington Gardens. We sat without candles. There 
was at first an evening glow all among the trunks of 
the old elms ; then that died away and the twinkling 
lamps and the subdued rumble of distant traffic remained 
to remind us of the passing of another busy London day. 


The quiet and rest were delightful, and as I thought of 
the vast energies of my friend and the noble life he was 
leading, I felt that it was a privilege to be in his 

In 1870 I satisfied myself, by study in the library of 
the House of Commons and by the valuable information 
and teaching given me by such experts as Mr. (afterwards 
Sir Henry) Longley and the other officials at the Local 
Government Board, that hideous mischief was being done 
by the ignorant administration of boards of guardians, 
to which I myself had for some years been a party. I 
thought I could do no better service to the State and to 
the poor than by turning to good account the opportuni- 
ties a seat in Parliament gave me for calling the attention 
of the country at large, and my own union in particular, 
to what had become really a scandal. The subject was 
not one that Members of Parliament cared much to 
touch, but Mr. Goschen, then President of the Poor Law, 
or Local Government Board, understood the case, and 
lent his official authority to mend matters. Lord Lyttel- 
ton in the House of Lords supported reforming measures, 
and the aid of the present Lord Peel, then in the Commons, 
of Lord Frederick Cavendish, and of Lord Richard Gros- 
venor (now Lord Stalbridge), was to be relied on. 

I made my first move in January, in the rural union 
of which I was a guardian, by calling attention to the 
great and continuous increase in the number of paupers 
during a period of extraordinary prosperity in all branches 
of industry. The colliers were reported to be quenching 
their thirst in champagne, while the farm labourer and 
shoe hand kept the tap of the ale-barrel in almost un- 
interrupted discharge in working hours, and what was 
left in the barrel ran out in the evening hours. I had 


been a guardian of the poor from the age of twenty-one, 
and up to the age of forty had not read any instructional 
book whatever on the subject. I attended the fort- 
nightly meetings of my colleagues at the Union board- 
room and got what I could for the applicants belonging 
to my parish. Our chairman's benevolence was only 
equalled by his ignorance of the first principles which (as 
I have since learned) should have guided him and us. All 
of a sudden I made the acquaintance of an ex-assistant 
Poor Law Commissioner,* who was now a considerable 
owner and occupier of land in a southern county. As I 
paid him frequent visits, I sometimes accompanied him to 
the meetings of the board of which he was chairman, and 
thus my eyes were opened and I began reading. It was 
like a new world to me, and I assimilated all the truths 
and instruction I gathered from the pages of Walker 
("the Original"), Dr. Chalmers, Arthur Young, and 
above all the Reports of the great Poor Law Commission 
in the thirties. 

As soon as I realised that the poor-rate was by 
law to be devoted to the relief of destitution and 
not the alleviation of poverty, I began an examination 
into the parish cases, with the most surprising results. 
Here benevolence had made full use of public funds, 
justifying the custom under the plea of Christian duty 
to neighbours. The good Samaritan appeared among 
us in the form of the relieving officer, and his dole of 
loaves was supplemented by such extras of meat and 
brandy or wine as the parish doctor recommended. 
Before long I came to the conclusion that, in our own 
village and parish at least, trial should be made of the 
workhouse test. It was obvious that rent could not be 
* Mr. Stevens, of Bradfield. 


paid and a life of idleness sustained on the parish dole. 
It was clearly our duty to ascertain whence and what 
were the other sources of income. 

I set about the inquiry, beginning with the case 
of a " very respectable and deserving " widow with 
several young children. As she was the widow of 
our rector's regular coachman, who had died suddenly, 
and as she was a communicant, I took the rector 
into my confidence. He was much distressed at my 
suggestion of a formal official inquiry and at the 
suggestion of an offer of indoor relief, assuring me 
that the poor woman had no private means or sub- 
stance beyond what the offertory and his purse bestowed. 
He played the advocate's part so well that, with my then 
entire want of experience, he diverted me from my pur- 
pose, and matters went on as before, only I took her 
younger boy on to the farm and garden, stone-picking 
and bird-scaring, at, I fear, very sorry pay. I can see the 
innocent little fellow now on a cold morning in a scanty 
green great-coat made out of his father's old livery, with 
a basket in one hand, blowing on the other which was at 
liberty, as he stooped intermittently to pick up a cold 
flint, or taking silent refuge under a bank from the March 
wind, while the crows in hundreds were billing and digging 
at the sprouting barley ; and then the feeble run forward 
and scream of alarm as his wandering eyes fell on my 
figure at the field gate. Poor little chap ! a touching 
example of the mercies of outdoor relief and the blunted 
conscience of the guardian who procured it for him.* 

* This family, Mr. Pell means to suggest, were sacrificed to the ir- 
resistible temptation which an unwise administration of Poor Law 
relief sets before the poor, either, as in this case, to simulate destitu- 
tion, or, what is much worse and more general, to neglect all reasonable 
precaution and so really achieve destitution. 


The eldest of the family " kept house," a good girl, but 
not more than a girl, maybe of fourteen years. Before 
a year had gone by, the mother died, and was buried at 
the cost of the ratepayers ; and as soon as the grave was 
turfed over, this girl called with a request to see me. She 
was sufficiently draped in black, so were the other orphans. 
When she came into the room, I put a chair for her, and 
asked her what she wanted. She desired, she said, to 
know what she should do about mother's money. As I 
supposed this meant about a few shillings, perhaps 
only pence, I said she need not make a fuss about it, 
if the relieving officer questioned her, as it was not 
worth considering. "But indeed it is," was her 

excited reply ; " it is sixty pounds, and Mr. [the 

rector] took care of it for mother." Here was a 
pretty revelation, the precursor of many of the same 
description that I unravelled as years went on. I lost 
no time in walking off to the rectory for an interview 
and explanation. My friend told me the child's 
account was accurate, and the money all safe, I think 
in the savings bank, in the mother's name. When 
I remonstrated with him on the concealment he had 
been a party to, he rather indignantly reproved my 
want of feeling for the poor and needy, and pointed 
out that it was his duty, as " clergyman of the parish," 
to protect those unfortunates, and that confidences 
should not be betrayed. As the child had dropped 
some remarks about " mother's other money," much as 
I disliked any further conversation on the matter, still, 
I ventured to ask if he could throw any light on these 
remarks. After some hesitation he told me that he 
believed (in fact, he knew very well) that a sister, a farmer, 
had been a borrower of the pauper, but he did not state 


what was the amount. From the daughter, however, I 
learnt the name and address of her aunt, and she brought 
me memoranda which seemed to me to show that a sum 
of over 300, and interest, was involved. Acting as 
trustee for the children, I employed a solicitor to take 
the matter in hand, and was fortunate enough to recover 
and invest over 300. I soon found employment for 
the two eldest, and the 300 saw the whole family 
fairly started in life. 

The next case in the same village was that of a bed- 
ridden woman (a pauper), living in a miserable hut of 
only one room, the wall of which was made of cobble or 
red earth. In the thickness of this wall a recess had 
been left or cut out for a sleeping-place, and within this 
recess, for I know not how long, this woman, a fragile 
creature, had passed her life, engaged with her needle, 
when there was light enough, in doing " sprig-work " 
on Nottingham net, stretched out on a light wooden 
frame. The pay, supplemented by the Poor Law dole, 
was starvation pay. Taking into consideration the 
character of the house, the woman's health, the miserable 
industry to which her time was devoted, I made up my 
mind to persuade my fellow-guardians to withhold out- 
door relief, and make an offer of the " house." The 
parish doctor had doubts about the risk of moving to 
fresh surroundings a woman who had been so long bed- 
ridden. She herself assured me it would be her death. 
The neighbours in the adjoining mud residences were 
clamorous and threatening. The features of the case, 
however, were scandalous, and if made public would 
certainly have led to well-deserved condemnation of the 
neglect of the guardians. Among those specially active 
in discouraging removal to the workhouse was a young 


man, a sawyer, earning very good wages. He lodged a 
few doors off, and was constantly vociferating " Shame ! " 
when the determination of the guardians to act on their 
decision became known. A fortnight or a month's grace 
was allowed before relief was stopped. By the expiration 
of that time the bed-ridden pauper was out of her bed, 
the sprig- work was gone to the devil, its fitting destina- 
tion, her faith in the guardians' treatment had made her 
whole, and she took herself off to London, having hastily 
married the sawyer, where, in Lambeth, he made a com- 
fortable home and got regular employment, and where she 
became the mother of three children. Her eldest, a boy, 
for several years used to write me notes, with his mother's 
dutiful respects, telling me what good times they were 
all having. 

Since 1865 the charge for Poor Law relief was no 
longer parochially localised, but the idea still prevailed 
that as regards out-door relief each parish might be 
trusted to look after its own affairs. The result of 
the old parochial chargeability had been very cruel to 
the resident poor, who were expelled from the close 
parishes and crowded into the open ones. Still, in 
these close and over-crowded parishes the farmers 
regarded it as some compensation that they had the 
command of an ample supply of labour on the spot at 
the busiest seasons of the year. The contrast between 
the rude hovels as homes in the open villages, and the 
ostentatiously roomy and ornamental cottages in the 
close ones, with their gardens and out-houses, was very 
marked. The providers of these model cottages were 
spoken of as examples of generous and estimable landlords 
in the press and in pamphlets by writers ignorant of the 
miserable system of which they formed a picturesque part, 



and of the fact that the last thing their owners desired was 
that any more of the busy and needful men, working on 
their estates, should with their wives and little ones be 
housed there. Such had been the bane of the English 
Poor Law on the point of settlement. 

The low and inadequate rents at which model resi- 
dences were let, with the approbation of the benevolent, 
was another source of ill-being to the rural labourer ; 
it checked the independent building of other houses 
in the neighbourhood of a substantial and suitable 
character by depressing the scale of rents to a degree 
that made cottage building wholly unremunerative, 
and led to the people being housed in sorry, cramped 
shanties, on little plots cribbed from the roadsides, or 
in narrow rows, brick and slate of the meanest descrip- 
tion, the speculation of the jerry-builder. Still, there 
was one abounding charm about them they were the 
homes of independence. While the rent was paid, 
politics, Nonconformity, lack of submission, amusements, 
habits of lif e, did not furnish disqualifications for tenancy, 
and the tenants remained undisturbed at the fireside, 
unless removed by the process of law. 

Sanitary laws were not in the Statute Book; the 
need of them was not felt, and when fever came it 
was regarded as God's will being done. In my village 
typhoid appeared and killed at considerable intervals 
of time, in one or two houses, not by any means sorry 
ones, and it has only been within the last thirty 
years, that attention has been turned to finding out 
the cause. In these poor homes, however, nothing to 
me was more striking in many cases than the skill, 
care, and ingenuity shown in house-keeping, especially 
in the sick-room, which, however poorly furnished, was 

" HAWKINS " 243 

clean and made as comfortable as poor circumstances 
would allow. The contrast between the surroundings of 
the sick person in a poor London district and here was 
very remarkable there was so much more " manage- 
ment " and so much less money in the country than in the 
town home, and so many more appliances for comfort and 
economy. As Miss Octavia Hill has pointed out, in many 
of the homes of the London poor it would be possible to 
seek in vain for a thimble, a darning needle, a cradle, a 
clock, a pair of scissors. In the country this is not so. 
There in old days the mother's dress, of real stout stuff, as 
it wore out and after much patching, descended to child 
after child, till nothing but a rag remained ; and so with 
the father's clothes cut up, reduced, re-fashioned, and 
re-made, they passed down the family of boys, to figure 
at last, though in tatters, still with some stoutness, 
as a "mawkin" in the corn-field. There extremes 
met, and the stake that upheld them was topped with 
the squire's oldest stove-pipe hat. This headgear, 
stirred by the March gusts, seemed gifted with some 
feudal authority, always terrifying to the rooks who 
sailed, cawing vehemently, round it, the very birds 
who would alight with distressing familiarity in the 
shadow of a mawkin, surmounted only by a straw 

The union in which I acted as a guardian might be 
termed a rural one in 1870. I do not remember a factory 
at that time in it ; each village, except the smallest, had 
a shoemaker or cobbler, a hedge carpenter, a baker, a 
publican, a tailor, possibly a butcher, and many skilled 
labourers, clever thatchers, hedge-cutters, and drainers, 
of whom it might be said that most of them took a pride 
in their work. It contained over 63,000 acres with a 


population of nearly 14,000. There were several very 
considerable estates in it, with their " close " villages, and 
there were the mansions of four peers of the realm on those 
estates, and in addition there were some smaller but still 
large properties with their halls standing on them. As 
far as nature had to do with it, I should say it was a goodly 
district. In the year 1870 everything went on hi the 
usual " humdrum " way, though in the town and manu- 
facturing districts there was an extraordinary " boom." 
At all events, elsewhere work was abundant, and wages 
on the whole good, but in my peaceful, aristocratic union, 
if you paraded all the inhabitants peers, parsons, squires, 
yeomen, farmers, gentlemen at large, and the residue, big 
and little one out of every twelve in the assemblage was 
a pauper. The first thing to be done was to get these 
figures officially vouched, and at the same time to make 
a personal call at the home of every pauper and obtain 
particulars at first hand from the mouth of each recipient 
of parish relief. At the same time a committee of the 
guardians took on themselves the revision of the lists. 
The consequent revelations were what might be expected, 
and reform set in at once. Of course, no advance could 
easily be made with the old chairman in office. He 
disappeared, and was succeeded by one * who proved as 
able and as reasonable as any that ever filled that most 
important office. 

In the " close " villages were the usual ornamental 
cottages, which the pleased observer saw and praised. 
What he did not see was that which I discovered and 
witnessed in my round of inquiry. On January 22, knock- 
ing at the door of W B at C B and 

* The Rev. William Bury, rector of Hazelbeech and later of Harle- 
stone, Northamptonshire. 


entering the cottage, an extremely good one, I found the 
tenant W B blind, and seated by the cold fire- 
place. He said, " I am seventy-five years old, and blind. 
I worked for sixty-five years on the same farm the 
Rectory Farm in this parish ; about four years ago I 
took a prize for long service, 4. I have been on the 
rates twelve months. I and my wife had 5s. a week 
to live on from the relieving officer. Now we have 6s. 
Last winter was very cold. For nineteen weeks we never 
touched meat [meaning " butcher's meat"]. For several 
days we had no firing except a few sticks we picked 
up. We went to bed many days at four o'clock to 
keep warm. The guardian never comes to see us. I 
don't even know who he is. Our rent is 4 a year 2 
half-yearly. I don't know how we shall meet next pay- 
day. My wife is now upstairs in bed ; she is not well. 
We have had fifteen children. None of them can help us 
now. Three sons and three daughters are living, all 
with families, and one single son, I don't know where." 

H S , in the same village, told me : " I have been 

for six years a widow, and have lived in this house forty- 
eight years. My rent is 3 65. 8d. My husband worked for 
twenty-seven years on one farm. I am obliged to have 
a nurse now at Is. 6d. a week. My children do a little 
for me. One, a girl, is single, thirty-three years old, and 

lives with Mr. , of the Board of Trade. The guardian 

doesn't visit me. I was eight years needle-woman at 

Park, and made the first clothes the present 

earl wore, I mean my landlord." Again, in the 

same village I called on S S , who told 

me : "I am twenty years a widow. Don't know 
who the guardian is. Nobody visits me except Lady 
X at Christmas time. My husband used to work 


regularly for the last ten years of his life at House 


Now, all these cases were in a " close " parish owned 
by a man of the highest possible character, resident on 
this estate, perfectly ready to do his duty by the poor 
if he only knew it.* He proved a ready and conscien- 
tious learner, and played his part handsomely in the 
coming reform. On this same property was a row of 
picturesque cottages put up at much cost with an 
eye to effect. Each of them had for a tenant a 
widow at a nominal rent. There was no endowment 
whatever ; all the inmates were paupers, at the annual 
charge on the rates of over 60 a year for maintenance 

About this time I visited annually the West of 
England. I had a friend there, one of the largest land- 
owners in the country. Near his house, and approached 
by a lovely lane in a warm hollow some way up the side 
of a hill, was a picturesque settlement of little chalets 
standing round a green, kept in the best order by 
the scythe a show place. My friend was very proud 
of this family appanage. He took me to see it, and what 
we saw had indeed a pretty effect ; but what he did not 
see, or, for all that, most of his admiring neighbours and 
visitors did not see, I soon discovered. Every inmate 
was a pauper. Oh, the degradation of such a display ! 
and this, too, in the cause of " charity " ! In these 

* The suggestion of course is that if proprietors instead of spending 
money on model almshouses, and allowing them to be tenanted by per- 
sons in receipt of relief, would take an interest in procuring a more 
restricted administration of the Poor Law, they would do a greater 
kindness to the poor and maintain the population in an honourable and 
progressively increasing independence. 


close parishes, why should there be any paupers at all, 
occupying houses, too, wanted for the homes of the 
independent labourers on the estate ? Why were these 
tabooed and driven to reside at a distance from their 
employment in the sorry hovels of the " open " 
parishes ? 

Meeting Mr. Gladstone one evening at a quiet dinner 
in London, he began a conversation with me on the 
subject of Poverty in the East of London. I advised 
him, if he ever had time to spare, to drive with Mrs. 
Gladstone down Whitechapel High Street and the Com- 
mercial Road, at about eight in the evening, assuring him 
that he would look upon a scene of activity and cheerful- 
ness far beyond anything to be seen in Pall Mall, and 
that there were fewer sad faces in the East to trouble him 
than hi the West. We soon got on the general question 
of pauperism, and he sat and listened as if I was a Gama- 
liel not, however, encouraging any argument ; but he 
asked me what I thought of the influence of the clergy 
in the midst of this difficulty. I replied that with one 
or two exceptions (which I would have named, only he 
at once became restless), in my opinion, they aggravated 
the evil and assisted in the manufacture of paupers, whose 
numbers I had come to feel depended not so much on 
straitened circumstances and limited opportunities as on 
the will or want of will of those in a position to guide and 
govern them as neighbours, employers, or landlords. 
Becoming adventurous, I went on to say that, as pheasants 
were preserved at Hawarden, and as it was possible to 
arrange how many birds should be on the ground there, 
I was convinced that the same care would settle the point 
how many paupers should be on the estate, one hundred 
or none at all. He neither assented nor questioned this 


proposition.* Mr. Gladstone, however, deserved our 
thanks for the ministers he placed at the head of the Poor 
Law Board in Whitehall. With Mr. (now Lord) Goschen 

* The following letter, written at the time, gives a fuller and 
equally humorous account of this interview : 

May 3, 1883. 


An event has just happened in my political meanderings through 
life which will, I know, interest you. 

I have dined with Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone, not at their house, but 
as quietly and exclusively at that of a mutual friend, Sir Walter James, 
in Whitehall Gardens. I went impromptu, " just as I was," from the 
House of Commons (so did Gladstone) at 8 on Monday, at the con- 
clusion of Lord Randolph Churchill's speech. Lady James is a de- 
lightful old lady with all the cheerfulness and spring of youth, which 
remains only with old ladies of her period, who, by the way, are never 
stout. She is a great personal friend of the Gladstones. Mr. Glad- 
stone sat on her right, I on her left hand, at the round table, at which 
also were of course old Sir Walter James, his son the M.P. for Gates- 
head, his wife, and Mrs. Gladstone (who, I consider, comes far behind 
Miss Octavia Hill). 

Mr. Gladstone eat his dinner methodically, and completely cleared 
his plate ! There were no remnants ! (Oh, John !) He drank only 
claret ; his shirt was about as old as mine with similar buttons, bought, 
I should think, at the village shop. His laundress is not a Chinaman 
or French. When his mouth was not full (and I allowed him the 
chance), he talked earnestly or listened attentively. I asked him 
whether he left the House while Lord Randolph was speaking on 
account of a false quantity (Origen). He said, " By no means. 
Macaulay always pronounced it Origen." I asked him what quantity 
he himself would use, and he said he was much in doubt. Then he 
went off to ecclesiastical history and Mosheim, and said it could never 
be well written by itself ; that could only be done by weaving it into 
a general history of a period or of a people, and that it had yet to be 
written. He spoke a good deal about Henry VIII. 's divorce, saying 
it had very much less to do with the Reformation in England than was 
generally understood. Then something led up to London, and he 
took up the blocks in the streets and pointed out where new ones were 
becoming frequent and that the alteration at Hyde Park Corner would 
not remedy the difficulty there, which required a subway. No large 
town in Europe would tolerate what takes place at Charing Cross. 


or with Mr. Stansfield in control, the principles of the 
Poor Law were safe from official trifling, such as was to 
follow in a few years at the hands of the Conservatives. 
I saw a good deal, and was a close observer, at this 
time, of that vivacious politician Lord Randolph Churchill. 
He sat always with the " Fourth Party " exactly below 
me, and astonished me by his eagerness and excitement. 
I could only compare the quivering of the muscles of his 
neck while speaking to that in the neck of a fox-terrier 
intent on the seizure of a rabbit in his burrow. The 

A great concourse of people and vehicles are drawn together at that 
point, half of whom have to cross the river, and the bridge is wanting, 
so they pass, some to the right, some to the left, to block two streets that 
most need freedom Parliament Street and the Strand. Next he talked 
of street architecture work in red bricks, which he said had been 
best done, he thought, in some buildings at the bottom of Norfolk Street, 
next Somerset House, and how the present Duke of Westminster had 
intercepted his father's building projects which would have disfigured 
West London. Then he began with me about East London. When 
Lady James introduced me, he had said, " Oh ! I know all about you 
and your connection with East London, and some of your views." 
I told him I thought there was not much to be said for our architecture, 
but I thought he would be interested to see the White'chapel Road at 
night, and that he would form a very good opinion of the people, of 
their industry, submission to order, and cheerfulness ; then he all at 
once became like Paul at the feet of Gamaliel, and he had to 
listen to a few verses from the Epistle of St. George the Crowder 
and St. Pell the Less : the Epistle General to the Guardians of 
the Poor. But oh ! the immeasurable distance between Gladstone 

and ! neither inclining to the workhouse test, but the 

former, eager to learn, insisting on a statement of results, even to the 
very numbers in our workhouse and infirtnary last week, admitting 
that the supply of labour to the docks and riverside factories would 
be better regulated under our system, that play would be given to 
active charitable relations between the poor themselves, and that the 
sense of responsibility among employers and the " well-to-do " would 
probably be thus revived ; the other spellbound in his own 
ignorant presumption. He asked me whether on these subjects I 
thought the clergy held right views, and whether their presence was 
seryjceable among the poor. You know what sort of a reply I would 


quiverings became more intense as his words poured out, 
especially if Mr. Gladstone, sitting over the way, was the 
object of his assault. Mr. A. J. Balfour frequently sat 
next him as one of the same party. His deportment and 
posture were very different. It reminded me of the figures 
of saints in abbey windows. It was one rather of blessing 
than of cursing. There seemed to be about it all an air of 
affectation. When he spoke, however, his words claimed 
attention and respect at once. The other members of the 
" Fourth Party " immediately below me were Henry 

give. I mentioned Samuel Barnett of Whitechapel as an exception, 
and incidentally he declaimed against Navy chaplains as unfitted for 
parish duties. He said he had never sailed but once in a man-of-war, 
and perhaps formed his opinion too much from one example. I 
thought I knew of another, but held my peace. Then, as Mrs. Glad- 
stone had been to the London Hospital that day (I wish she would keep 
away), he took up the subject of the great hospitals. / hit them as hard 
as I knew how, and he entered into the subject with as much spirit as 
if it was that of the Irish Land Laws. I told him I hoped he did not 
think I was a philanthropist, for I could assure him if I had not other 
calls in East London I should probably never have gone near the place. 
He said he thought he understood what I meant, and that it would 
be as well if others in my station in life became owners of property in 
the poor quarters of the town. At last, but not till we had been over 
half an hour together in the drawing-room, he took his departure, alone ; 
and then in an hour's time he was sitting opposite to me again in the 
House, with his legs stretched before him, protruding the low, lattice- 
tied shoes, the well-worn black morning suit, the old shirt and buttons, 
the necktie with the bow twisted under the left ear, the hands folded 
on the lap, the eyes closed, and the lines of the face drawn into a deep 
expression of patient waiting for the great division that will take place 
to-night. I need not say what a pleasure it has been for once to have 
met this strange being and to have talked face to face with him, and 
I thought you might share some of this pleasure if I tried to give you 
a little sketch of the quiet evening with Gladstone. 

Believe me, 

Yours affectionately, 


If you don't mind letting me have the letter again, I can put it in my 
diary, and thus save much writing there. 


Chaplin, John Gorst, and, best of all, Jim Lowther. He 
was a fine friend to have at hand in a political scuffle. 
We were at daggers drawn, however, over Protection, 
but I admired him much as a fearless, outspoken, and 
most honest politician. With him I must mention 
Tom Collins, member for Boston, who possessed the 
voice of a costermonger, the cotton umbrella of Mrs. 
Gamp always, wet or dry, under his arm, and who shared 
with Mr. Beresford Hope, of " Batavian grace," the same 
indifference to dress and a devotion to High Church 
dogmas. From Tom Collins I learnt the art of obstruc- 
tion, for the exercise of which the orders of the House 
then gave full play. We were considered adepts ; but 
when Cork sent Mr. Biggar among us, we retired among 
the reserves. As summer came on, I enjoyed the late 
hours when the game in the House was left to be played 
out by a select reserve on both sides. A patient and 
determined obstructionist on the other side was one 
of the oldest men in the House, a tall, hearty, North- 
country Whig, with a fluffy white hat, of course, and a 
splendid constitution. He was, I think too, a great 
fox hunter. Like myself, he always walked home from 
the House, and I enjoyed this with him beyond measure. 
As we trudged up Whitehall at three or four in the morning, 
if it was fine, he always pulled up somewhere near the 
Horse Guards, and, turning his fine rugged face to the 
East, called on me to admire the view with the rising sun 
shining on St. Paul's. Certainly it was then one of the 
very many beautiful views London affords. No need 
to go to Venice for effects. 



THE year 1870 was an eventful one for the country, 
which suffered from a drought commencing at the end of 
February and lasting till the end of August. The ponds 
were baked dry, the wells were empty, cattle had to be 
driven long distances to drink, or water was carted 
for them, as a friend farming in Norfolk told me, seven 
miles by road. We lopped the ash and other trees for 
fodder, and turned the animals into woods and plantations 
to get what browsing they could. Poor things ! they 
were bags of bones to look at. The cart-horses had to 
live in the stables or yards. I bought " natural molasses," 
a sugar refuse, from the West Indies in large hogsheads. 
It had to be dug out of them with a spade and afterwards 
with much trouble dissolved in water. With this a large 
heap of wheat or other straw was soaked and then given 
to the famished animals. 

In Parliament were stirring events ; Gladstone supreme. 
On February 15 he introduced his Irish Land Bill in a 
speech of three hours, containing a provision and machinery 
to fix " official rent," an early inoperative meddling with 
free contract. This was followed on February 17 by 
the Education Bill, in charge of William Edward Forster. 
He did it very well in his rough, acute way. His work 
was always that of the axe, rather than of the plane, but 


" NOSTRUMS " 253 

he fashioned his material very suitably with it. These 
two measures roused the Conservatives to action, which 
resulted in an imposing meeting of the party at Lord 
Lonsdale's house in Carlton Terrace, of which I have 
already made mention a great relief from Parliamentary 
dullness, a relief improved on April 5 by my first 
sight of Sothern as Lord Dundreary, and on the 6th 
by the Oxford and Cambridge boat-race on the Thames, 
of which I had a fine view from the oil-mills of Messrs. 
Pinchin & Johnson, East London neighbours. Radical 
efforts did not yet subside, for on May 9 Lord Hartington 
brought in the Ballot Bill in the most Radical speech 
I had ever listened to. On July 14 the Victoria Em- 
bankment was opened, and on July 17, going down to the 
House, I heard that war was announced between France 
and Prussia. This made up a remarkable record for 
six months of one year. 

I soon found that, in addition to such grave matters, 
the House of Commons was constantly occupied with 
the discussion of "nostrums" such, for instance, as 
Warner's Long Range, the Dover and Calais Tunnel, 
the repeal of the malt tax, rating highlands for the pre- 
vention of floods in the valleys, a broad gauge for railway 
track, and " Home Rule," the last named a nostrum fatal 
to the existence of the party led by the statesman who 
adopted it. But of all the " nostrum " makers, the 
most fertile was another statesman of the same party. 
It is amusing now to remember the eager and reckless 
way in which Mr. Joseph Chamberlain has projected his 
nostrum-like bombs during his Parliamentary career, 
and the readiness with which they have been accepted by 
persons reckless of constitutional safeguards and legal 
or hereditary rights. The first of these was a declaration 


of the questionable title to the possession of land by the 
great owners. Justice could only be satisfied by the 
exaction of "ransom" so said the Birmingham oracle. 
So, for a short while, shouted his disciples ; and then he 
dropped it for a new nostrum and prescription for the 
House of Lords. It was announced that the House of 
Lords must be either "mended or ended" a pretty 
phrase, but, as no tinker equal to the mending and 
no madcap with zeal sufficient for the ending have yet 
appeared, that nostrum '(No. 2) was dropped. Then, 
leaving the " classes," he turned to the " masses," and, 
with Mr. Jesse Collins as the inventor, he adopted him and 
nostrum No. 3 in the "three acres and a cow." Then 
for a while there was a lull, and the curtain dropped over 
this pretty rural folly. But the fertile brain was not 
idle, and philanthropy was the drug relied on for com- 
pounding the next nostrum, No. 4. The idea of State- 
aided or rate-aided pensions for the aged poor was 
adopted and received all the support that an extra- 
ordinary gift of speech and ability could conimand. 
This nostrum was referred to a Royal Commission and to 
several committees of inquiry, and has been condemned 
or declared impracticable by all.* What was to be done 
to alleviate this disappointment ? Not in the least 
dismayed or corrected, Mr. Chamberlain revived the ghost 
of Protection and adopted that as nostrum No. 5. 
Its embers were still smouldering in Conservative homes, 
and he fanned them into flames. But the flame will not 

* It was without doubt Mr. Chamberlain's intervention which brought 
the old-age pension question within the range of practical politics ; 
but, singularly enough, the only plan which holds the field is Mr. Charles 
Booth's scheme of universal gratuitous pensions a scheme which 
Mr. Chamberlain has always consistently condemned. It is a modern 
instance of Frankenstein's monster. 


endure v for there is no substantial supply of fuel to feed 
it, and, what is worse for the devotees, the stars in their 
courses are against them. This nostrum, nevertheless, 
just as Home Rule had done, smashed the party which 
entertained it, the party of which Mr. Balfour was the 

The dull, prosy debates to which I had to listen were 
now and then relieved by unlooked-for flashes of wit 
from unexpected quarters. There was a member for 
Northampton, Mr. Gilpin, who in due time sat on the 
Liberal front bench. When he entered the house, he was 
regarded by that august assembly as hardly up to the 
mark in birth, education, manners, or appearance. He 
was " sniffed at." When for the first time he stood up 
to address the House, his attempt was met with indignant 
and jeering utterances, expressive of derision and contempt. 
He was silent for half a minute, then raising his voice to 
its highest and turning round towards the Speaker, he ex- 
claimed, " Sir, I cannot be put down in this way, for I 
have been accustomed to address a worse set of blackguards 
than those who are now trying to shout me down." This 
silenced the noisy crew, who were glad to have done with 
him and leave him to make his speech without interruption. 

In the debate on the Ballot Bill the English county 
members had been particularly ready to impart to 
the House their electioneering experiences as candi- 
dates. Such relations were neither novel, exciting, nor 
amusing till Mr. Bernal Osborne, with his smooth, sallow 
face, " caught the Speaker's eye," and declared that there 
was nothing remarkable in any English election that 
he ever heard of, and that an Irish election was the 
thing. " There," he said, " a candidate started in the 
morning in a chaise and four and came home in the 


evening on a hurdle." Mr. Bernal Osborne had a very 
varied electioneering experience, for it was said that he 
never was returned for the same constituency twice. 
On one occasion he thought to practise his sarcastic wit 
at the expense of Mr. Ayrton, who had recently joined 
the Liberal Government. Mr. Ayrton was certainly 
not a jocose man, and he sat impassive and still during 
the attack ; he then rose very deliberately and said, 

" Mr. Speaker, the honourable member for " then 

hesitated and added in a whisper loud enough to reach 
me, " Where the devil does he sit for now ? " 

Mr. Ayrton was an able man, but without much 
polish. While at the Office of Works he did excellent 
service at Hampton Court and in the park, by intro- 
ducing a better display and arrangement of flowers 
under the advice of a Scotch expert, who was summoned 
to his aid from the North. I have always thought 
him deserving of the gratitude of his countrymen 
for the beautiful adornment of our parks and public 
places. Somehow or another, the management of affairs 
at Kew Gardens gave him offence and roused his bad 
temper, so much so that in a technical debate in 
the House of Commons, when stress was laid on the 
experience and scientific attainments of Sir Joseph 
Hooker, the Director of Kew Gardens, Mr. Ayrton 
growled out that he was not in a position to carry 
on a contest with a " market gardener." 

This year I had to attend the Church Congress at 
Nottingham, staying for it at the house of a relation in 
that county. An admirable paper was read by Pro- 
fessor Westcott on University Education for the Ministry 
of the Church. There I met again an old schoolfellow, 
Dr. Charles Vaughan, subsequently Master of the Temple 


and Dean of Llandaff. I had kept up a friendship 
with him for many years. After leaving Rugby I lost 
sight of him till I was in rooms at Trinity in statu pupittari ; 
he came up to keep Divinity terms. He had been 
reading for the Bar, but on the death of his uncle, Judge 
Vaughan, he left that pursuit in exchange for the Church. 
Unfortunately for him, he was given rooms over mine 
in New Court, and, as I was not a reading man, but an idle 
one with noisy companions carrying on our carousals 
through the night, with frequent convivial outbursts 
in the daytime, he was in great straits for opportunities 
of quiet study. At last I got a nice note sent down 
from above me : " MY DEAR PELL, If you will only tell me 
when you go to bed, if you ever do, I will avail myself 
of such periods for study and reading." 

In October I acceded to a request to lay the foundation- 
stone of a village school, built by a clerical Tory con- 
stituent. Being a freemason, it was fit I should do 
so. The day was fine, and the company very cordial, 
joining in some prayers on the spot. Then the ivory- 
handled trowel was handed to me, which I took in work- 
manlike style and, spitting on my hand, was about to 
do a little smoothing of the stone with its edge, when 
the mason seized my wrist and, saying, "It is silver," 
saved it from mutilation. 

In December I gave up one of the four or five 
different farms I occupied in three counties, reserving 
the proceeds of the sale for election expenses, being 
well assured that my wealthy opponent would punish 
my pocket as often as the opportunity occurred. 

At the end of this year the Prince of Wales had 
a very dangerous attack of illness, and his life at one 
time was despaired of. I was, like thousands of others, 



terribly anxious, and went daily to hear how he fared 
from a great lady of the Court. At last the tidings 
improved, and one day I was told he had actually drunk 
some beer. I clapped my hands and pronounced him safe. 
I had walked across country in a black fog, but I re- 
turned with something better than a bright sun to warm 
and cheer me, and the New Year of 1872 " came up to 
take his own " undimmed by mourning. 

February 27 was a sunny spring day, and I 
walked with my wife before a quarter past ten to 
the House of Commons. Thence, with other members 
and their wives, we went in a steamboat from the 
House of Commons' stairs to St. Paul's Wharf, from 
which we walked up through narrow ways, cleared of 
people, to the Cathedral. The Queen came in state 
with the Prince and Princess of Wales and others of 
the Royal Family, and we were in our places, excellent 
ones, near her station awaiting her arrival. The service 
began exactly at one o'clock, and was marked by great 
solemnity and devotion, being only interrupted on my 
right by the snoring of some of the Diplomatic Corps 
during the sermon. There was no crush or difficulty 
in returning to the boat. I at once made my way with 
my wife to Constitution Hill, where the mob seemed 
to have some doubt as to which was the Queen, but 
the cheering was general and decided when they became 
sure of their object. I was out again from nine to twelve 
at night in the streets, visiting Ludgate Hill, Holborn 
Viaduct, Holborn Bars, Temple Bar, the Strand, New and 
Old Oxford Streets, Regent Street, Piccadilly, and Pall 
Mall, and did not meet with one reeling drunkard or twenty 
the worse for liquor. The charge-lists at the police 
courts next day were a proof of the temperance of the 


crowds on this occasion. I heard no bad language, 
and saw no blow struck. The coloured fire at St. Paul's 
had a good effect, the lamps round the dome a very 
poor one. 

On a fine day in March I took a long walk to revisit 
the home of my childhood on the northern margin of 
Middlesex. I knew the daffodils would be found in 
flower under the trees in the big pasture field near the 
hedge dividing it from Hertfordshire and in the open 
spaces of the wood over the fence. There they were, 
dancing in the wind, and I sat down to gaze at them. 
The eagerness of childhood to gather them, with all the 
satisfaction of so choice a prize, no longer possessed me. 
The sister who used to join in the visit to their ground 
was dead ; the field had been parted with : it and the 
daffodils had another owner, a stranger, and I had another 
home, with no daffodils, wild, at least; and I returned 
to my London work and the formal hyacinths in the 
parks. There was a great gulf fixed between the daffodils 
and the hyacinths. 

The principal matter to which I devoted myself in 
Parliament was the relief of real property from the un- 
due charges of local taxation. I had been at it ever 
since 1869, and to my great satisfaction, Sir Massey 
Lopes, my leader, defeated Mr. Gladstone's Government 
in a pitched battle over the question by a hundred 

In May, instead of a tramp at the Lakes, I and my 
wife went off to Yorkshire, sleeping on the way at Leeds. 
The next day we put on the knapsacks, took train for 
Skipton, and thence went on foot to Bolton Abbey, 
Barden Tower, and to Barnsall to sleep. The next day, 
a very cold one, we walked over the hills by Linton and 


Threshfield to near Malham Water ; then turned back 
to Gordale Scaur, on by Malham to Malham Cove, and 
back to the Buck Inn at Malham to sleep. No daffodils 
anywhere, but in their place the beautiful flowers of 
the primula farinosa on the hills. 

The next day we drove to Bellbusk station, and 
so on by train to Ingleton, whence we walked to Batty- 
Wife's-Hole, a strange settlement of navvies engaged 
in the construction of the new Midland line to 
Carlisle. They were at work on a great viaduct and 
tunnel, and quite a little wooden town of bothies, 
huts, and shops had been got together by the road- 
side hi the valley. There were hard-featured women, 
with unruly children, engaged in washing and hanging 
out clothes of all descriptions to dry ; there was no 
gossiping or dawdling ; they had neither waists nor 
manners. The " stores " supplied all the family wants 
flannel, boots, bonnets, buttons (large ones), round 
jackets, thick and warm, fustian trousers, bright cotton 
neck-cloths, cards, cribbage boards, song-books, even 
some musical instruments. There was a " public " 
with ale and tobacco, where large, coarse, glass flasks, 
flat to button into a jacket's breast-pocket, holding 
about a pint of spirits, were in steady demand. Large 
drays loaded with the strongest ale and stout were un- 
loading in the road, or returning with empty barrels to 
the distant brewery. There was no butcher's shop, such as 
is seen in the streets, but instead a well-arranged slaughter- 
house, where the best beef and mutton was killed, and 
where I saw in the evening the men, not the women, 
come in to buy, taking away only the best joints. There 
was a window where children's wooden sand-spades were 
sold, and kites and hoops and German toys, the like of 


which might be seen at any seaside watering-place. 
There was no sand, however, here for a child to dig 
all was rock and glacier clay, which, when wet, melted 
down into " slurry " and became the most troublesome 
stuff for the contractors to meddle with in the railway 
cuttings. Occasionally it slipped, spued and slithered 
into a cutting, and in the night would overwhelm a 
train of trucks placed for its removal in a solid form next 
day. The engineers of the London and North- Western 
line for years were occupied with resisting its descent on 
to the track near Bletchley station as it is approached 
from the north, and the Midland Company had similar 
difficulties and dangers at the south approach to the 
Ampthill tunnel. That evening we walked into Gear- 
stones Inn to sleep. 

The next day was very wet and miserably cold, 
a typical May day, but we reached Leyburn. We 
put up at a small commercial inn there. We proposed 
going to church, but the landlord said it would 
be better not, for the rector did not like strangers at 
the service. This decided the matter, and we found 
our way into a dull pew near the reading-desk. There 
were no signs of a congregation, except some boys, who 
in a few minutes began to take shots at our heads with 
nuts, which rattled off the oak panelling in a lively 
way. This ceased, however, with the arrival of the 
rector, who frowned at us on his way to the reading- 
desk. Then his wife walked up to a bird-organ ; a hymn 
was given out, a few feeble notes followed ; and then came 
forth from the nut boys a volume of the most lovely 
sound, and the hymn might have been sung by seraphs. 
This was a Sunday to remember ! 

On Monday, which was fine and warm, we made for 


Middleham Castle, near which we were startled by runners 
crying, " Card of the races, gents ! card of the races, 
weights and colours of the riders ! " and we realised that 
we were entering a famous Yorkshire training-ground, 
a strange contrast to the quiet of the moors and rocks 
we had come away from ; but there was the castle 
to be seen, and the lovely Jervaulx Abbey at its 
best in a warm, bright spring day. Then we walked 
back to Ure Bridge, and so to Richmond for the 

The next and last day of the expedition we took the train 
to Ripon, and in the evening walked to the splendid ruins 
of Fountains Abbey, surrounded with exquisite scenery. 
What a holiday week this had been, beginning with wild 
moorland scenery, and closing among examples of the 
most perfect art, ruins now, but putting to shame 
modern efforts of pious Protestants ! 

On the 29th I went to the consecration of St. Benet's 
Church, Stepney not a bad building, and the first example 
of the removal (nominally, at all events) of a superfluous 
City benefice to the far East, with its growing crowds 
of industrious and poor people. The first incumbent 
was a friend whose acquaintance I had made some 
years before in his first cure of souls near the London 
Docks. His history was an interesting one. He was the 
son of a draper (I believe) at Lancaster, and got his 
teaching at the free school in that town, as I fancy had 
Mr. George Moore, of the famous wholesale house in 
Bow Churchyard. Mr. Moore had himself as a young 
man found his way to London, obtained employment 
there in a leading draper's establishment, and step by 
step had raised himself to the place of a leading citizen 
in London and one of her foremost public men and 



philanthropists. So my friend, himself still only a full- 
grown lad, reached Cheapside, and finding his way into 
the busy offices, asked to see Mr. Moore, sending in word 
that he was a Lancaster lad. He was admitted to an 
audience, and in reply to the usual question of " what 
he wanted," replied, " Employment in Mr. Moore's ser- 
vice." One of the partners came in, to whom the case 
was mentioned. I fancy Mr. Moore must have been 
touched by the appeal and inclined to give way, when 
Mr. Copestake put in, " We don't want boys here ; we 
may want men." This roused my friend's spirit and 
temper, and he at once retorted, " Give me a trial, and 
if I don't sell as much as any man on the premises, get 
rid of me." So he was taken on. 

Now, the wholesale house of Copestake, Moore & 
Crampton then dealt in every article required for 
women's dress, and to them came up from the country 
towns the drapers, large and small, for their supplies. 
Many, of course, were in a small way of business, but 
they required a long list of goods for their retail cus- 
tomers. To complete his order, a purchaser had to 
be passed from room to room to select in each one 
the special article stored in it ; this took time, and 
was wearying work when the orders were so small. My 
friend at once saw the trouble, and asked for a supply of 
large cases or boxes with shelves to lay them on ; then he 
had a complete selection a woman's outfit, in fact 
placed in each box, and instructions were issued that the 
small buyer should be sent to his department. There 
he found all that he wanted, and something more, 
ready on one counter for his inspection, and, if pur- 
chased, for packing bonnets, parasols, boots, shoes, 
slippers, fans, stays, laces, tapes, flannels, caps, gloves, 


stockings, ribbons, all of the newest fashions, patterns, 
and dyes. 

The experiment was a complete success ; all the 
buyers were cleared and their goods booked to them 
before the afternoon came on. Then, when the long 
room or warehouse, so busy in the morning, was empty 
and quiet, my friend determined to carry on a little 
business without goods or capital on his own account. 
He stretched a canvas sheet across the middle of the 
room ; on one side of it were the goods to be offered 
to-morrow, and on the other side he gave dancing-lessons 
to his fellow-employees, and he was never without pupils. 
So things went on, to the satisfaction of the heads of 
the business, and he was on the way to preferment, when 
dancing gave way to devotion and he had " a call." 
He became gloomy, desponding, despairing, and haggard, 
not at all in the best and confident mood for capturing 
the country customers. Mr. Moore, hearing of this, sent 
for him, looked him over, and said in his brusque way, 
" You've got into bad company, and women will ruin 
you." " No ; God forbid ! " my friend said. " Shiner 
I am among sinners, and I know not what to do to be 
saved, but I have had a call." " Well," said Mr. Moore, 
" I am sorry I misunderstood your ailment. You 
have served us well here, but you must leave." " I 
expected as much," was the reply. " But," added 
Mr. Moore, "you will go to St. Bees at my expense, and 
from there, I trust, into the Church." Off he went, 
and when his Divinity terms had been kept, he came 
back to London to be ordained, and Mr. Moore gave him 
the appointment of chaplain to the staff of the firm 
in Bow Churchyard. There he remained for some time 
till I made his acquaintance. 


I had on my property in St. George-in-the-East a large 
chapel in which Church of England services had always 
been conducted under a licence. Dr. Bryan King, the 
rector at the mother-church, had no congregation, and 
the West-end lay leaders of the Evangelical party pressed 
me over and over again to sell the freehold of the chapel, 
that it might be consecrated and have a district allotted 
to it. At last very reluctantly I consented, the proposal 
was carried through, and the first minister appointed 
was the once assistant seller in Cheapside. So we were 
brought together, and so we worked together for many 
years. Under his guidance I built a small ragged-school, 
which was soon filled, and where he taught and trained 
the little roughs. He was all that one would wish hi that 
capacity, always cheerful with them, ready with repartee, 
and a match for all their cunning and audacity. One 
of the first that came was a wild little savage no cap, 
no shoes or stockings, a shirt with only one sleeve, trousers 
in bits with only one button and the waistcoat with 
none, completed his suit. He was very suspicious at 
first, on his guard like a wild animal that avoided handling 
or capture. He came round in time, and, having ex- 
cellent abilities, made good use of the school. After 
leaving he attained to the position of a foreman cork- 
cutter in St. Mary Axe. Many, if not most, of the 
children were without shoes, and we did nothing to 
encourage their use. They are an article of dress 
which the young everywhere, especially in wet and cold 
weather, are better without. The Irish and the Scotch, 
outside town life, sat in those days on their school forms 
with naked feet and shins. Coming in from the storms, 
the little limbs steamed as they dried, and were not 
starved during lessons from a wrapping of cheap, sodden 


boots and spongy stockings. In a few years my friend 
was appointed to the new church of St. Benet's, Bow 
Road, and I saw less and less of him. 

His successor was of quite another sort. The School 
Board for London was established and I closed the 
ragged-school, but placed my annual subscription to 
it in the hands of the new vicar. Before long, however, 
I got by the post from him in a pamphlet form an appeal 
to relieve the distress in his district. It was the usual 
reckless falsehood. He stated that he personally knew 
of strong men and their families starving in our midst. 
There were illustrations, but not of the starvation cases. 
I lost no time in writing to ask him for the addresses of 
some of these cases, as it would be my duty to come to 
London without delay to visit them. They might be 
my own tenants, and I was as well a guardian for the 
parish. In reply I got no addresses, but a remonstrance, 
saying it was too much to expect that these penniless 
people would come down seventy miles to explain their 
need to me. Of course I at once desired this shuffler 
to read my letter more carefully, and he would see it 
was my intention to come up to London as soon as he 
would let me know the addresses to go to. The next 
letter from him was of a priestly nature to inform me 
that the spiritual friend and guide of the poor, admitted 
into their confidence, should never betray the secrets of 
their sad family wants and miseries. There was, after this, 
nothing left for me to do but to say that in future he 
must not expect any further money assistance. I think it 
was a year afterwards that I had a letter from him, dated 
from a bishop's palace, expressing his regret at the state- 
ments he had made, admitting, I imagine, then* untruth ; 
and shortly after he went his way from East London. 

" SLUMMING " 267 

" Slumming " was then coming into vogue. In 
a very severe winter with prolonged frost, when a 
stop was put to all hunting, Guardsmen were seen in 
Ratcliff Highway, with their pockets full of money, and 
bestowing, it was popularly believed, as much as 25 
at a visit among the impoverished ladies who grace the 
poor pavement there in scarlet morocco boots and bare 
heads, their hair dark and shining with a rich dressing 
of oil. About this time, however, an excellent society 
was founded, mainly by men hi the Army the Society 
for the Relief of Distress, who, after some experience, 
appreciated the difficulty and set themselves to learn 
how to deal with poverty wisely, and gave their time, 
money, and personal services to abating its causes. This 
fashionable amusement was regarded for the most part 
as a sort of winter gipsying, furnishing ample topic for 
conversation and " collections," with some excitement, 
and the appearance of daring and risk such as might be 
experienced among the Redskins and their squaws, on 
the other side of the Mississippi. 

In September I went again with a friend for a walk 
in Devonshire. We paid a visit to our local taxation 
chief in Parliament, Sir Massey Lopes, at his lovely 
place Maristow, on the banks of the Tavy, near to its 
junction with the Tamar. At that time he rented the 
old monastic house and the shooting of Buckland 
Monachorum. On a fine Sunday afternoon we walked 
up to this peaceful solitude. At the Reformation 
the monastery had been dissolved, and the estate 
passed, in the time of Elizabeth, into the possession of 
the Drakes. Half-way up, across the great hall, a floor 
was constructed, and a large dwelling-room was thus 
formed below it. In this was built a minstrel gallery 


with a balustrade in front of it, and on this balustrade 
were fastened the great (brass, I think) branched poop- 
lanthorne of the famous commander's ship, and by the 
side of it the very drums with which he had drummed 
round the world. I tapped them with my walking-stick, 
but they were dumb. They had " had their say," 
however. On the walls of a corridor or passage upstairs 
was fastened one of his manuscript charts with notes, 
and, at the bottom of the slope ebbed and flowed the 
river down which he must have passed to his game of 
bowls at Plymouth Hoe. 

When in Parliament I made but little use of the han- 
som cab, but preferred walking to and fro across the Green 
Park ; but I venture to record the origin of the hansom 
cab, as I had it from the mouth of a coachbuilder in my 
county town who had gone to work as a journeyman in 
London with a master of the name of Hansome, who had 
invented a peculiar cart for the quick delivery of coal into 
the cellar. It was hung on a bent axle, bringing the body 
low, which was so constructed that when backed it allowed 
the coals to be tipped directly over the coal-hole in the 
pavement. The ingenious part was in the balance, and 
so much of it was, I believe, patented. The cab followed 
on this by evolution ; the driver in the seat behind with 
the fare inside balancing as the coal did, and the horse 
running free with no weight on his back. These cabs were 
also patented, and after a while took with the public, but 
in a year or two their use declined, I know not why. 
However, there was a revival, and their use as the London 
gondola became permanently general. 

The top of an omnibus gives a delightful view of 
street life and scenery, and, with half an hour to 
spare, I would climb up one and tell the " cad " to put 

JEWS 269 

me down when I had had my pennyworth. A favourite 
pennyworth was over London Bridge with the Custom 
House in view, the lumbering barges trailing up or 
down with the tide, and the fruit steamers unloading 
their tempting cargoes on the wharf at the bridge 
end. The river below, bearing on its flood all the 
bounties of the world, unrestrained and unmolested 
by " reciprocity " or " protection," harmonised with 
the life of the free people which welcomed the treasures 
brought from all the world to its shores. All went on 
in an [active but orderly way, and this state of easy 
commotion seemed to culminate in the " pool " of vehicles 
and foot-passengers between the Mansion House and the 
Bank of England. 

How the Jew seemed to prevail in these regions ; here, 
in his polished hat, well-cut clothes, his memoranda and 
his ledgers ; there, away beyond Houndsditch, in his 
shabby, well-worn garb ; but both classes of their com- 
munity distinguished by untiring diligence, inspired 
brains, good health, love and care of their children, and 
reverence for their parents ! I had a clerical friend in 
my young days who wrote, preached, prayed, and begged 
for their return to Jerusalem ; and I had another 
irreverent friend who assured him that his efforts were 
of no avail, as the people of Israel would never leave 
London as long as old clothes were to be bought there. 

I have omitted to record the restoration, a year or two 
before the time of which I am now speaking, of Naseby 
Church, in which I was interested. It was decided to 
take the tower down and rebuild it, adding a spire on 
the top. The contract was taken by a literary builder, 
a Nonconformist and garrulous ; Cromwell and Naseby 
Field were favourite themes on which he dilated. In- 


side the tower, about two feet below the surface, the 
excavators came on the remains of over a dozen bodies, 
no doubt of the wounded who had died in the village. 
The builder informed me of this discovery, and with an 
air of great importance added the strange fact that all 
the skulls were perfectly " spherical." I was set wonder- 
ing to what race of men these could belong, when all at 
once it occurred to me that this prig wished to pay a 
tribute to the " Roundheads' " memory, and to illustrate 
his knowledge of English history. 

In 1873, in wandering in the London suburbs, I dis- 
covered one Sunday, in a very poor cottage near Kensal 
Green, squeezed in between the tracks of the Great Western 
and the London & North- Western Railways, and touching 
the fence of the former, two old-fashioned women en- 
gaged in the cultivation of dwarf cactuses, much in fashion 
then, and sold in small, bright red pots for the drawing- 
room table. There were only two rooms on the ground- 
floor ; they inhabited one, and a costermonger the other. 
There was a passage-room to the coster's apartment, and 
his donkey had also to make use of it to get to his shed. 
They complained of the donkey's feet going through 
their boarded floor and leaving troublesome holes in it, 
and as we became better acquainted, they begged me to 
find them some redress ; but all I could do for them was 
to nail the top of a box over the worst hole. At the back, 
near the donkey's stall, was a small, almost ruinous green- 
house with paint gone and the putty crumbling away ; 
but in this sorry nursery they reared with marvellous 
skill the miniature plants. They were grown in, or rather 
on, burnt clay, and were propagated by tiny offsets. 
These, placed on the ballast in the smallest sized pots, 
were left alone to take root. The trouble, however, was 


in the Flying Dutchman daily rushing by, and, as the 
women explained, " setting these little chaps a-rolling 
on to the ground before they had anchored themselves." 
This tried them terribly, but they were very patient. 
The two little women, their queer plants, and their skill, 
the costermonger and the donkey, interested me so much 
that I paid them several visits. They tried hard to find 
out my name and my calling, but to no purpose. At 
last, as I sat on their only chair, one said to the other, 
" You ask him, Mary," and Mary, thus encouraged, both 
sitting on the edge of their bed, said, " Are you Mr. 
Gladstone ? " One Sunday, when I went on my visit, 
I found them in really tidy clothes, and they promptly 
shut me in to tell me " The master is here." " Oh ! " I 
said, " then I'll be off." " Don't do that," they replied ; 
" come and look at him." So, taking me through the 
coster's room, they pointed to a huge German smoking 
a long china-bowled pipe among his plants. His name 
was Pfersdorf , or something like it, and, as he beckoned 
me to come on, I did so, and we shook hands and soon 
got into conversation, under difficulties, as he spoke very 
broken English. He expressed himself as well pleased 
with the condition of his plants, and told me he had two 
other establishments, one at Munich or Vienna, the other, 
the largest, at Paris. He thought the one at Paris was 
worth several thousand pounds, and went on to tell me 
the agony of apprehension he suffered when Paris was 
besieged. Besides his plants there, he had an aunt in 
charge of them, and for weeks he could get no tidings of 
them. Then, taking out his pocket-book, he showed me 
a letter, a tiny piece of thin paper, with a few words on 
it, which with frowns and angry features he read to me, 
" I am well and your aunt is well." " Not one word, you 


observe, about my plants. In another month I got 
another letter ; here it is see it. ' Your aunt is well, 
and I am well.' I could tear my hair ; not one word 
about my plants. Was there ever such cruel people ! 
As soon as it was possible to get inside Paris, all in ruins 
and hot ashes, I made my way sadly to my greenhouses, 
and would you believe it ? there was not one pane of glass 
broken ! " " And how," I asked, " was your aunt ? " 
" Oh ! she was well enough." 



THIS year (1873) I encouraged the registration of a 
provident society by the labourers in our village, with 
only 133 inhabitants, all told. I knew that about 2,000 
a year was paid away in wages, and most of that sum 
would go for food, clothing, and domestic articles. I 
calculated that 1,500 might be spent in the stores of the 
industrial society. Five labourers came in, with the 
rector and myself, to make up the legal seven share- 
holders. Our rules, including one requiring all trade to 
be for ready money, were approved by the Registrar of 
Friendly Societies in Abingdon Street, Westminster, and 
we started with a capital paid up 1 on seven shares at 
1 each. We hired a room at the quiet little public- 
house, and started with a stock-in-trade of a minute book, 
twenty shareholders, books of rules, a painted title- 
board, and a device for our seal (a bundle of sticks held 
together with a withe). The publican's wife was ap- 
pointed storekeeeper ; her pay was one shilling in the pound 
on sales. The first trade outlay was in ink, paper, steel 
pens, pencils, tape, needles, pins, lucifers, candles, soap, 
and violet powder. Custom came, but no shareholders, 
and it wanted only a few weeks to the end of the quarter. 
Then, when the accounts had to be made up officially, a 
dividend of over ten shillings in the pound on the pur- 
chases made by the shareholders was declared and dis- 
tributed ; the other customers who were not shareholders 

273 1 8 


got nothing, but the profit on their purchases went to 
swell the shareholders' dividend. This threw a light on 
the new enterprise, and before the next quarter was out, 
the number of shareholders was doubled, as was the 
capital, now 14. Then a move was made out of the 
room at the public-house to the hedge-carpenter's cottage, 
with his wife for storekeeper, and from that after a while 
to better premises again. Before many years were out 
the sales rose to my estimate, 1,500 a year. Since then, 
by reason of the departure of the rector, who had acted 
as secretary, and the appointment of another rector 
under orders to discourage the society, my co-operative 
friends have been obliged to give up their premises in the 
village and take others some distance away. This of 
course reduced the sales, but for many more years its 
useful existence continued, until at last its shareholders 
decided on winding-up. There were no debts to meet, 
everyone got his share capital back in coin, and the 
storekeeper took over the stock at its wholesale value 
and ran the little business as a private one, but still 
on the ready-money rules.* 

This spring, after a separation of thirty-six years, I 
met with the widow of my famous master, Dr. Arnold 
of Rugby. Her daughter was married to my friend 
W. E. Forster, and he it was who brought us together 
again at his house in London a very great pleasure in- 
deed to both of us. How the old Rugby days came back 

* It was in this store that Mr. Pell added to the mirth of the neigh- 
bourhood by putting up a board with the following legend, seen by him 
first in a store in the Western States of America : 

Trust is Bust, 

Bust is Hell, 
No Trust, no Bust, 

No Hell. 


again ! I recalled her kindness to me after the loss of 
my father at twelve years of age, the pity she bestowed 
on me, and the lonely walks I took by the dull river 
Avon, gathering the tall yellow iris to take to her as a 
present. I remembered, too, how I used to see her seated 
on her pretty white pony coming out into the road from 
the school-house carriage gate, with the tall, manly figure 
of her husband by her side, striding along for the warm 
afternoon walk in his canvas trousers. What respect and 
admiration, not unmixed with fear, that commanding 
figure inspired ! With many, I make no doubt, he was 
regarded with fear alone, and by such he was only talked 
of as " Black Arnold." 

The Shah of Persia paid England a visit, and I went 
with other Members of Parliament to a great reception 
at the Guildhall. As the evening was a fine one and 
the rooms very hot and crowded, I got into company 
with the firemen, and went with one of them all over the 
roof of the Guildhall, looking down through some openings 
at the sight of the bubbling, glittering mites below like 
ants in an overturned nest. 

In July I went away east to Bethnal Green Museum, 
where Sir Richard Wallace was allowing an exhibition 
of some of his precious works of art. I spent hours there 
of wonder and delight. There were some pictures illustrat- 
ing the five senses that were especially engaging. They 
were all of handsome or pretty women exercising the 
different senses, and extraordinarily expressive. I do 
not think these are at least, I looked, and failed to find 
them in the collection in Manchester Square. 

This month there was a terrible tragedy in the Midlands 
in the death of a gamekeeper I had known from his boy- 
hood a man very ignorant of the laws under which game 


is protected, but a servant very zealous, poor fellow ! in 
his master's interests. On a bright July morning, going 
with his son his early rounds, he came in an open field 
on poachers. As he knew the men, his proper course 
would have been to have seen them off the land and sum- 
mon them, instead of which he attempted an arrest. 
The result was resistance ; a shot was fired which killed 
him, while his son and another man were seriously 
wounded. His master's property was near a large 
manufacturing town where the preservation of game, to 
be effectual, requires an adequate staff of keepers and 
assistants. Where the keepers on an estate are known 
to be men selected for their physical powers, resolution, 
and courage, as well as for their determination and ability 
to inflict at once, and by the aid of the law, the severest 
punishment on poachers, game trespassers are few and 
far between. Poachers will risk their liberty over the 
chance of a good bag, but are not so ready to risk their 
persons or their limbs and the chance of a broken head. 
There is something, too, in the features, bearing, and action 
of a keeper that cows the poacher. There was a fine old 
keeper on an estate near one of my farms for whom I had 
a great admiration. He was passing along a road on a 
murky November evening, when he met two notorious 
poachers with then 1 nets and a dog. In a moment he got 
out his knife, whistled the little dog to him, cut his throat, 
and flung him over the hedge. " Now," he said, " if you 
don't make off, I will serve you both in the same way." 
The bloody sight of summary jurisdiction on their dog 
so unnerved them that they walked off without dispute 
or delay. 

This year (1874) a great discovery of early editions of 
Shakespeare and other authors was made at the house 


of my schoolfellow Sir Charles Isham, Lamport Hall. 
In the library of that house was the usual collection of 
British and other classics in folios and quartos of very 
respectable dates in handsome bindings. It contained 
no modern books from Sir Walter Scott downwards, and 
I never saw a single volume from those shelves in the 
hands of any reader. Still, the library was an extensive 
one, so much so that it was thought desirable to have it 
properly catalogued. This was undertaken by a famous 
London firm of booksellers, who for that purpose sent 
down their representative, Mr. Edmunds. This gentleman 
was engaged, off and on, for some years at the work. At 
last it was completed on a certain forenoon, and Mr. 
Edmunds took his seat at the luncheon table before 
leaving for London. As there were some minutes to 
spare before the train was due, Lady Isham said to him, 
" Oh ! Mr. Edmunds, there are upstairs in an attic in a 
chest of drawers some old books waste paper, in fact ; 
perhaps you would just have a look at them." Upstairs 
Mr. Edmunds went, and in about ten minutes came down 
with a small book or booklet bound in old limp vellum 
with leather strings instead of a clasp to keep its pages 
close. Holding it up, he said, " This seems a curiosity. 
May I take it to London ? " In a few days came a note 
from his employers, offering Sir Charles 7 (if I remember 
right) for this small copy of Shakespeare's " Venus and 
Adonis " and " The Passionate Pilgrim " ; but Sir Charles 
said he did not want to sell books. So this one was 
returned, and shortly after Mr. Edmunds paid another 
visit, to examine thoroughly the other contents of 
the attic. Then there were revelations. The " Venus 
and Adonis " was the edition of 1599, perfect in every 
respect, and so far unique. In the library of Trinity 


College, Cambridge, I have seen another copy of 
the same date, but imperfect. Sir Charles at last was 
persuaded to sell some of the " attic " treasures, and this 
little volume made 2,000. Among other little volumes 
bound up in the same way were Decker's Poems, and 
others of a " free " character. There were playbills of 
Shakespearian time, and several copies of his spurious 
plays. Several volumes were unique. The history of 
their scarceness is that on account of their licentious 
tone all these publications had been condemned under an 
episcopal order to be brought in and burnt. The Isham 
of the day, however, who had seen a good deal of the 
world, retained his copies, putting them out of sight for 
safety, and there they slept in the attic of Lamport Hall, 
not wholly undisturbed, for there was a Kettering book- 
seller who yearly bought up waste paper for grocers' 
packages, and, in his spring rounds, he was sent upstairs 
to bring down and pay for what he wanted. It was the 
small size of the sheets of " Venus and Adonis " and other 
rarities that saved them, for they were not large enough 
to "do up " a pound of butter, soap, or sugar. What 
treasures went for that ignoble use no one knows, and so 
we must be content that so much has been left. 

At this time (1874) I was much occupied in continuing 
the reform of Poor Law administration in my union, 
with wonderful results in the reduction of the number 
of paupers and promotion of industrious habits. At the 
same time I was active in inducing the sanitary authority, 
of which I was a member, to sewer thoroughly several 
villages from which enteric fever was never for long 
absent. My view was that engineers rather than doctors 
were wanted in places where cesspits, dung-heaps, and 
pig-styes were close to the wells, and where with 


such conditions typhoid virus poisoned the drinking- 

In January, 1875, I was one of a deputation to the 
Home Secretary, Mr. Cross, pressing the Government 
to relieve ratepayers of some of the heavy exceptional 
charges for such purposes as prisons. The deputation 
at the time met with little encouragement ; but before 
long the local taxation reformers had succeeded in 
transferring the cost and control of the prisons to the 
Treasury and Home Office. This was a gain in every 
respect. Many small gaols were closed, and a better 
class of officer was appointed for governors. 

Early this year (1875) the question of English tenant 
right became of interest, and was the subject of discussion 
in and out of Parliament. There were three causes 
operating to bring about a desire on the part of occupiers 
for legislation on this subject. These were the presump- 
tion in law that improvements made by the tenants 
became the property of the landlord ; the inability on the 
part of limited owners to make agreements with their 
tenants which would be binding on their successors ; and 
the disinclination of tenants with some corresponding 
disinclination of owners to bind themselves by written 
agreements, even where both sides were hi a position to 
make them. No sensible person ought to allow such a 
disinclination to influence him, and I was heartily in 
favour of written agreements being adopted wherever 
circumstances permitted. No legislation, however, was 
needed in such cases ; common sense and business habits 
ought to suffice. 

It was in the other two cases that legislation was 
needed; namely, first the presumption in law that tenants' 
improvements became the property of the landlord, who 


by bringing about a change of tenancy could thus appro- 
priate them to his own profit. In many instances 
landlords were legally incapacitated from giving tenants 
security, where both sides desired it, against this jeopardy. 
The impediments were of old standing, and though, 
owing to the competition for farms, they had to be 
accepted by tenants, none the less they were serious 
hindrances to improvements in agriculture, endangered 
the tenant's capital which had been expended in im- 
provements, and placed him at the mercy of an 
impecunious or covetous landlord. I thought that 
these impediments might be removed by legislation, so 
that the landlord might be placed in a position to enter 
into a binding contract with a tenant on the subject of 
his improvements. When both parties were free and 
competent to make an agreement, I would leave it to 
them to come to terms. I was entirely against compulsory 
tenant right, but in favour of annulling the presump- 
tion that tenants' improvements became the property 
of the landlord. 

Step by step, however, Parliament added a Compul- 
sory Tenant Act to the statutes at large. All I could 
do was to insert a clause that no valuer's or umpire's 
award should be valid unless it set out in detail the items 
with particulars of the award and the sum allowed for 
each item. The valuers made a general protest against 
this provision, and as a rule shirk complying with it ; 
it is the landlord's fault if he does not insist on it. 

In March I was much engaged in establishing medical 
clubs in every parish of the union in which I was guar- 
dian. The medical men were very obliging and helpful. 
I also got the guardians to publish a statement of 
all their parochial charities, as set out in Lord Robert 


Montagu's return, and then, in every case where these 
funds were bestowed on persons in receipt of parish relief, 
I took steps to bring that improper practice to an end. 

In May I took the chair at a great meeting of 
Friendly Societies in Leicestershire. About 700 were 
present, and I did not let the opportunity pass without 
addressing them on the subject of the Poor Laws, and 
pointing out how faulty administration, in granting 
outdoor relief, operated against the full success of their 
splendid institutions. This view, I found, was widely 
accepted by the leaders of the societies. 

On June 1, 1875, 1 went off to the Bow Road to Moody 
and Sankey the American Evangelists' meeting. There 
was a very large space, which included a boarded fence, 
and there was a grand-stand with Moody and Sankey on 
it, supported by evangelical enthusiasts, from West 
London and elsewhere. I did not presume to be among 
them, but had a good commanding place at the side. 
Thence I saw a pretty scene, reminding me of Hogarth's 
picture, of two pious young friends singing away over one 
hymn-book with much fervour. Ere long, in this particu- 
lar case, the sequel was a marriage at St. George's, Hanover 
Square. The young couple, besides being devout, were 
extremely well endowed. Below me were the " masses," 
male and female in fair proportion. On a seat was a 
young workman, behind him was an empty seat or bench ; 
to this two young women with the extravagant feathered 
head of the East Londoner were attracted, and leaning 
forward, they began talking and flirting with the man. 
At first he resisted their attractions, keeping his eyes 
fixed on Moody, but by degrees he gave way and acknow- 
ledged their approaches. Then from behind another 
figure came on the scene, a little middle-aged woman in 


a tight shawl and a plain neat bonnet. She quietly 
placed herself by the side of the feathered hats, and 
leaning forward, took up the conversation with the man. 
In a few minutes his laughter ceased, he got fidgety 
and began to look serious. She had got control of him 
completely. In vain " the feathers " tapped his shoulder 
and tried persuasion. Their flaunts and jokes ceased, 
and they moved away, completely routed. When they 
were out of sight, the little missionary departed too. I 
stayed till it was as dark as a full moon would permit, 
then I mounted an omnibus, followed by a seaman in a 
mate's jacket, who sat next to me on the knife-board. 
When we reached the Minories I told him that if he wished 
to go to the Docks, he should get down. He was, however, 
going to the West End. He had heard Moody and Sankey 
some time ago, and being in London for the night, thought 
this was as pleasant a way of spending an evening as 
any other. He was returning to Liverpool next day. 

June 5, 1875, affords a fair example of a day's engage- 
ments. I breakfasted with Henry Chaplin in Park Lane 
to meet Welby and Turner, two county M.P.s, and go 
through the Agricultural Holdings Bill. Then I attended 
the meeting of the Metropolitan Asylums Board in Spring 
Gardens, afterwards going on to the Charity Com- 
mission for an hour to talk over the coming Poor Law 
debate with Henry Longley ; and in the evening I dined 
at Willis's Rooms, with the Prince of Wales in the chair, 
at a meeting of the Royal Agricultural Benefit Society. 
The next day, Sunday, I went to the service in St. 
George's East parish church, where Fraser, Bishop of 
Manchester, preached a fine sermon. I had much 
conversation with him afterwards at the rectory. 

On the 22nd there was an excited scene in the House 


in connection with a Shipping Bill dealing with the 
chartering and use of unseaworthy ships " coffin 
ships," as they were termed. Mr. Plimsoll, a great 
enthusiast, had taken the matter up. He had an inter- 
view with me, and he asked me to back one of his Bills. 
I told him I was surprised at so stiff a Radical coming 
to me for co-operation, and asked him what induced 
him to do so, seeing that I was a Tory member 
for an inland county with no seafaring experience or 
knowledge. He said, " Because if you give your consent 
I can trust you." I sympathised with Mr. Plimsoll, but 
I thought it better not to back his Bill. He complained 
that the Shipping Bill was now sacrificed to the Agri- 
cultural Holdings Bill, which, considering the urgency of 
the case and that human life was at stake, gave him a 
right to complain. Then, standing at the bar, he moved 
the adjournment of the house, and having found a place 
at the front bench below the gangway, he entreated the 
Government not to consign some thousands of living 
human beings to a miserable death. He declared that 
since the commercial marine was committed to the care 
of the Board of Trade, the whole matter was getting worse 
and worse. Ship-owners of murderous tendencies outside 
the House who are immediately represented inside the 
House had frustrated every effort to procure a remedy. 
He then quoted the case of a ship, the Bard of Avon. 
He said he must speak out, and entreated the House to 
consider its position. A secretary at Lloyds' told a 
friend that during thirty years he had not known of a 
single ship that had been broken up voluntarily by the 
owners because she was worn out. Ships pass from hand 
to hand, till bought up by reckless speculators and sent to 
sea with precious human lives. Every winter hundreds 


and thousands of brave men are sent to death and their 
wives are made widows and their children fatherless, in 
order that a few speculative scoundrels may make un- 
hallowed gain. " There are," he said, " ship-owners 
in this country of ours who never build a ship and who 
never buy a new one, but are simply ' ship-knackers,' 
and I heard an ex-Secretary of the Treasury in the 
lobby call one of my colleagues in this house a * ship- 
knacker.' I give notice of a question which I will put 
on Tuesday next to the President of the Board of Trade 
[after naming four vessels which were lost with eighty- 
seven lives in 1874 and two others abandoned at sea], 
whether the owner, Edward Bates, is a member for 
Plymouth or some other person of the same name ; 
and I shall ask some questions too about members 
on this side of the House." Then, in a loud voice, 
clenching his fists, he declared his determination to un- 
mask the villains who send these sailors to death. The 
Speaker presumed that the hon. member did not apply 
that expression to any member of this House. Where- 
upon Plimsoll, in an excited tone, stepped up to the 
front of the table, and added, " I did, Sir, and I don't 
mean to withdraw it." The whole House reminded me 
of a pack of hounds hi cover. Asked again if he would 
withdraw the expression, Mr. Plimsoll, amid cries of 
" Withdraw ! " declared he would not. The Speaker 
left the matter to the judgment of the House. Mean- 
while Mr. Plimsoll, who had taken a seat, again came up 
to the front of the table, placed a written paper on it, 
saying, " I shall be very happy to submit to the judgment 
of the House, and this is my protest." He remained 
standing at the table for a minute, and then amid cries of 
" Chair ! " resumed his seat, greatly excited. For myself, 


I sympathised with him, and being pretty well assured 
of the truth of his denunciations, I felt that some such 
bold, if unseemly, demonstration was needed to put a stop 
to such atrocities. Then Mr. Disraeli got on his legs, and 
described the conduct of his brother-member as " almost 
unparalleled," " and," chimed in Mr. Plimsoll, " so is 
that of the Government." Mr. Disraeli went on to 
move that Mr. Speaker do reprimand the hon. member 
for Derby for his disorderly and violent conduct. Mr. 
Plimsoll after this at once left the House, exclaiming 
with much gesticulation in passing the bar that he 
"would expose them," while his friends tried to per- 
suade him to offer an explanation. Lord Hartington, 
the leader of the Opposition, made some observations ; 
and then Mr. Sullivan, who had gone out with Mr. 
Plimsoll, appealed to the House to be considerate and 
indulgent, stating that he believed his friend to be 
extremely ill. He did not seek to justify conduct that 
had fallen short of the respect due to the House. He 
added that he held in his hand documents which had 
wrought the hon. member to the pitch witnessed to-day. 
While he had not the remotest idea of making his case 
worse by going into matters which would hurt the 
susceptibility of any hon. members, he still did not 
believe that his friend, even if brought to the scaffold, 
would retract what in calm judgment he had said. 
Nevertheless, with regard to the expressions used, he 
felt sure that in a few days, if time were given, the 
hon. member would set himself right with his colleagues 
in the House. Mr. Disraeli, upon this, thought it best 
that Mr. Plimsoll should not be required to attend till 
that day week. Good, however, came out of the rebellion 
of the member for Derby, for in due course he carried 


his Bill, and the Plimsoll mark is now to be seen on all 
sea-going ships, indicating the line below which they 
should not be brought down by cargo. To Mr. Plimsoll 
also we are indebted for foot-warmers for all classes in 
railway coaches. 

In January, 1876, I was nominated by the Local 
Government Board a guardian for the union of St. 
George-in-the-East, and on the 21st took my seat at 
3 p.m. The business was over by 9 p.m., and I returned 
west with A. G. Crowder, whose disciple I became.* He 
had brought about the most marvellous improvement 
in the policy of the board, which resulted in the entire 
abolition of out-door relief. 

Later in the month Professor Bryce, Mr. Fowler of 
Aylesbury, and Mr. Crowder came to stay with me, and 
the next day we had a good Poor Law conference at 
Northampton, with Lord Spencer in the chair, when 
Bryce read an excellent paper on out-door relief, and 
Canon Bury one on Poor Law and Charity; Crowder, 
much as he disliked it, made an excellent speech, all 

* Some time about the year 1875 Mr. A. G. Crowder, fresh from 
Eton and Christ Church, took up the task which has now occupied more 
than thirty of the best years of his hie namely, the better administra- 
tion of the Poor Law in St. George-in-the-East, one of the poorest 
parishes in London. He has proved the possibility and advantage of 
a restrictive policy. Under present conditions, as evidenced by recent 
revelations at Poplar and West Ham, the task of obtaining enlightened 
administration is well-nigh insuperable. Mr. Crowder's failure to 
attract imitators elsewhere is as important a feature in his experi- 
ment as his success in his own union, and is most conclusive proof of 
the hopeless inadequacy of present arrangements for carrying on this 
particular branch of local government in London. Mr. Crowder has 
never received nor sought any acknowledgment for his devotion, but 
it was a subject on which Mr. Pell was ever eager to enlarge. When 
a man of Mr. Pell's independent character describes himself as a disciple, 
he means to convey a very high compliment to his master. 


of it, I fear, " pearls before swine." On 1 February I 
was in London for one night to attend at the St. George's 
East Board of Guardians, when we decided to abolish 
pauper labour in the workhouse and to engage thirty 
paid servants. 

One evening in this month I went to the Princess's 
Theatre with Mrs. Winn, on the understanding that if 
she did not cry she should never go to the theatre with 
me again. However, we both used our handkerchiefs 
repeatedly, though Jefferson in " Rip Van Winkle " was, 
I thought, not quite so pathetic as when I had seen him 
ten years previously. On March 3, at Mr. Disraeli's 
request, I spoke on Mr. O. Morgan's burial resolution. 
We had a majority of thirty-one fifteen better than was 
expected. On March 15 I dined with the Speaker, who 
said the prefix to the Queen's new title of Empress should 
be, not " Dei Gratia," but " Dizzy Gratia." Charles 
Fitzwilliam was there, and told us that the following tele- 
gram had come from Lord Northbrook in India to Lord 
Salisbury : " We want six milliners, three with drawers 
and three without." Reply : " Explain your telegram." 
Correction: "We want six Milners " (safes), etc., etc. 

I thought the Speaker's dining-room of very unpleasing 
proportion, so lofty and narrow. An old-fashioned 
borough member, dining there next to the Speaker, said 
to him, " Mr. Speaker, sir, in this room I always feel 
as if I was in a sawput " (sawpit) ; and indeed that is 
just what it resembles. 

On May 1, 1876, I attended a meeting at the Farmers' 
Club, of which I was a member, when Mr. Fowler, M.P. 
for Cambridge, read a paper on the Poor Laws, and 
Professor Bryce and Mr. Crowder spoke. The next day 
was the usual meeting of the Central Chamber of Agricul- 


ture, followed by the testimonial dinner to C. S. Read at 
the Cannon Street Hotel, when a cheque for 5,500 was 
presented to him, and a piece of plate, in recognition of 
his sacrifice in resigning office as Parliamentary Secretary 
of the Local Government Board in order to mark his dis- 
approval of the course officially adopted by the Duke of 
Richmond with reference to the contagious diseases of 
animals a course which he and others thought would not 
meet the emergencies of the case. 

In May I seconded the amendment on the Licensing 
Boards Bill in a speech which seemed to amuse the 
House. I reminded Mr. Speaker that, in the growth 
of a town, by the addition of a large suburb taken 
out of the adjacent fields, the first building put up 
was a church and, hard by, the next a public-house. 
Beer and Bible were thus made contiguous in no 
unholy fellowship. Churches might be used for bad 
purposes as well as public-houses. It was the use the 
place was put to that sanctified or defiled it ; it was 
devotion in the one place and temperance in the other that 
justified their existence ; and then I supported my argu- 
ment by reference to the practice of Robinson Crusoe, who 
always took a dram before going on his knees to pray. 

I met at an evening party, and was introduced to, 
Sir William Gull. He was opposed to interference with 
the prosecution of scientific research by means of vivi- 
section, and was of opinion that admission to hospitals 
by subscribers' orders should be discontinued, and that 
a committee of infirmary governors should decide on 
cases for admission. Orders, he thought, might be 
placed at the disposal of ministers of religion and certain 
employers ; but in principle disease and accident, not 
poverty, should be the tests for admission. 


I attended very regularly the meetings of the Board 
of Guardians for St. George-in-the-East, sometimes not 
getting away till after ten at night. This month, too, 
I, with A. G. Crowder, attended a meeting at Leicester, 
with the mayor in the chair, to start a Charity 
Organisation Society. Crowder spoke extremely well, 
and a committee was appointed. Afterwards the 
society was formed. 

On June 13, 1879, the Government Poor Law Amend- 
ment Bill was before the House at a morning sitting, 
and I carried my amendment by which three years' 
residence gives a settlement. This was a very important 
and humane change in the law, and put an end to a 
fruitful source of litigation. 

On Midsummer Day, with my colleagues on the 
Metropolitan Asylums Board, I visited on inspection our 
asylum at Leavesden for imbecile paupers. It had cost 
us 171,000 equal to 85 a bed. On July 6 I had 
a two hours' conference with Lord Sandon over the 
Education Bill, and the next day I met by appointment 
Mr. Jones, the relieving officer of Stepney Union, to 
have his opinion of out-door relief. He believed the 
people would be better without it if it was entirely dis- 
continued. We had a Poor Law conference in London on 
the 17th, with my friend the Right Hon. W. E. Forster 
in the chair ; but I grieve to say his sad views on out-door 
relief were not sound. The next day, when I was about 
to move my resolution on the amendment of the Poor 
Laws in England, I was promptly counted out. I antici- 
pated as much, for the subject was not one enlivened 
by party strife. 

In October I gave up one of the farms I rented in 
Leicestershire. The sheep sold very well at the auction, 



ewes averaging 565. and lambs 355. each ; the live stock 
made 1,400 on 200 acres. Among this stock, however, 
were six old horses, rising from eighteen to twenty years. 

On November 16 I attended the Poor Law conference 
at Lincoln, when Mr. Jones, relieving officer of Stepney, 
read a paper on out-door relief, the bestowal of which 
is dispensed with in his union. On November 30 I 
went to the Rugby Cattle Show, and afterwards to the 
Conservative dinner, where Newdegate fatigued us for 
over an hour in denouncing the Pope of Rome and all 
his subtleties. He is so like a hearse horse ! 

My friend Mr. A. G. Crowder took a great interest 
and part in the management of the Blue Brigade of 
Shoe-blacks working in the East of London and City. 
Frequently, when the meeting of the board of guardians 
was over in Old Gravel Lane, and after nine at night, 
we trudged off to the institution in Leman Street, and 
conferred with the manager there, and visited the rooms. 
The person in charge acted as manager and schoolmaster, 
keeping the accounts as well. No assistance was asked 
for or given in the way of subscriptions or donations ; the 
whole undertaking was self-supporting. The men were 
required to be in punctually at a fixed hour in the evening, 
when they declared their earnings for the day to the 
manager. After the establishment charge had been 
taken out of it, each made what use he liked of the rest, 
but every facility was provided for investing in the 
savings bank. The earnings were very considerable 
much over a pound a week in many instances. Great 
care was taken in admission of men to the institution. 
No really able-bodied men were taken on ; the situations 
were reserved for cripples, dwarfs, and those physically 
precluded from the usual employments of the poor. 


Very few, if any, were boys, though most, to a casual 
observer, looked like them. The work, in fact, was 
reserved for the disabled. The common room was well 
lighted and warmed, and the dormitories and beds 
thoroughly clean and comfortable. After an hour with 
these people, I made my way westward to the House 
of Commons. 

Returning late one night, I hailed an omnibus at the 
top of the Minories. It was empty, but as I got in 
another passenger followed me, and seating himself by my 
side, began talking. He told me he had passed a wonder- 
fully pleasant evening with the sexton of a church in the 
Minories Holy Trinity, I think. He had tea with him, 
and instead of a loaf the sexton put a human head on 
the table, quite brown and dry, and told him it had been 
found by the builders in a mass of sawdust buried in 
front of the altar. It had belonged, he said, to a great 
lord many years ago, who was beheaded ; the executioner 
had to strike twice. The nick in the neck, made by 
the cut which was ineffectual, was still to be seen. 
The sexton said the great lord was the patron of the 
sexton's church, and that his followers, getting hold of 
the head as soon as it was off, put it into a sack with 
sawdust (no doubt from the scaffold), and making off 
with it to the church, buried it there before the altar. 
This must have been, I fancy, the head of Brandon, 
Duke of Suffolk. 

In the month of January, 1877, in company with the 
chairman, I visited the home of every pauper in the 
Brixworth Union. We found that many of those on 
the relief list were persons not requiring relief, while, 
in many instances, the paupers had evaded the relieving 
officer's inquiries as to relations and friends able to 


contribute or keep them off the rates. I got at the 
truth in some cases from photographs framed and hung 
on the walls likenesses of well-to-do personages in 
broadcloth, sometimes ornamented with a ring, who 
proved in many instances to be persons if not legally, 
at least morally, bound and able wholly or partly to 
support the pauper. In one case we found a man known 
to be intemperate, supplied regularly, on the parish 
doctor's report, with spirits for an alleged heart com- 

In the adjoining parish was a group of so-called 
almshouses, six of them of one room each, built in a 
pretty style, with picturesque roofs and chimneys, and 
neat grass-plots and hedges in front. There was an 
inscription referring to their establishment and the virtues 
of the founders of these so-called almshouses. For 
lodging in this building a half-penny only per week was 
paid as rent by six widows, every one of whom was 
maintained out of the rates at the cost of 61 a year to 
the ratepayers. In this parish the whole belonging to 
one owner, a most excellent and distinguished man 
one-eleventh of the inhabitants were paupers. He said 
pathetically, " How could I help this state of things ? 
I succeeded to it." In time he learnt better and became 
a valued assistant in the reforms. There was no want of 
liberality in his disposition; he only followed in the 
tradition of his elders, and, in compliance with this, a 
conventional cheque for 50 was sent every winter to 
the rector of the parish for distribution among the 
poor. He appointed a friend of mine rector, who, on 
the cheque coming, said he should be pleased, before 
he became almoner, to have the names of the persons 
the donor wished assisted, with particulars, and that 


failing this, he would pass the cheque on to the agent. 
In the end, this suggestion for consideration led to the 
ill-advised gift being entirely discontinued. 

On February 8, 1877, I was up in London again for 
the opening of Parliament, a function that always in- 
terested and amused me. The day was a lovely one, 
sunny and mild. Outside Palace Yard I found a ladder, 
which I mounted, near one of the iron entrance gates, 
and so got a good, quiet view of the Queen's procession ; 
thence I made off in haste to the House of Lords, in time 
to get a good place at the bar. There was an awful 
crush, but I was amply rewarded and vastly amused to 
find Dizzy, now Lord Beaconsfield, already posted on 
the left-hand side of the Queen, holding up before his 
nose a huge scabbard (covering, I suppose, a two-handled 
blade), perfectly motionless and in a sort of Japanese 
dress. He might have been a product of Madame 
Tussaud's art. I afterwards got a seat in the Lords' 
gallery in time to see him sworn and take his seat as 
Lord Beaconsfield, which he did very composedly. A 
poor debate followed. 

I met Sir George Jessel at dinner on the 21st, who 
deplored the mischief universally done to society by 
endowed charities and money doles. All this month, 
and for some months afterwards, I was, when at home, 
much occupied with the sewering of villages in the 
union. We had Brixworth in hand at this time. 

On March 2 I stayed the night at Harleston Hall with 
Lord Spencer, and the next day the Rev. William Bury 
and I went over to Althorp Park with Lord Spencer for 
a consideration of local charities and pauperism, and 
thence to a Northampton meeting of the Cattle Plague 


On the 7th I dined with William H. Smith, and at- 
tended the Speaker's levee afterwards. 

On March 8 I met for the first time Miss Octavia Hill 
such a wonderfully intelligent face and such a clear 
voice ! Lord Elcho brought about the meeting by asking 
us both to dinner in St. James's Place. I thought her 
the closest and plainest reasoner I had ever met. The 
party was a singular one, nearly all being of good birth, 
in very picturesque dresses, round a table in a room 
hung with magnificent pictures, to all of whom I, in 
my oldest House of Commons' clothes (for Lord Elcho 
had carried me off from there), must have presented a 
strange contrast. I had, however, an " under-study " 
in a poor man, a friend of Miss Hill. He was no fool, 
and a good worker in London, but having inadvertently 
suggested some improvement in charity organisation, 
on an invitation to explain, he got wandering and lapsed 
into " goody-goody," upon which he was " dissipated " 
with ease and good-humour by Miss O. Hill. Major 
Fitzroy was there (paralysed, poor man !), taking great 
interest in the Charity Organisation Society ; also Sir 
H. Pelly, M.P. for Huntingdonshire, as well as Dick 
Grosvenor, both Poor Law reformers, and not idle at it 
either in London. So what with good pictures and a very 
good dinner, I was entirely happy. 

On March 22 I had a long talk with the Duke of 
Richmond in Westminster Hall, when I counselled him 
not to impose severer restrictions on the live-stock trade 
unless by Act of Parliament. 

On April 11, 1877, I went to the Privy Council and 
again saw the Duke of Richmond twice, insisting strongly 
on his taking the control of cattle plague cases out of 
the hands of the local authority in and about London. 


He sent for Mr. Riley to confer with me, and the next 
day the Duke told me at the Privy Council office that 
the Government had decided to do what I wished to be 
done, and that the Order in Council was already signed. 
This was satisfactory. I was still making good attend- 
ances in the board-room of St. George-in-the-East 

On the 17th I was one of the wedding party at the 
marriage in Westminster Abbey of Reginald MacLeod 
of MacCeod and Agnes Northcote ; Sir Stafford was 
then deprived of his daughter's secretarial assistance. 
On the 19th, with Edward Greene, M.P. for Bury St. 
Edmunds, I called on Lord Beaconsfield concerning 
Messrs. Biggar and ParnelTs profligate abuse of the 
rules of the House. The old chief, however, was very 
cautious. On the 24th I dined with Backhouse to 
meet Miss Octavia Hill again and her lieutenant, Miss 

On April 29 I heard Goschen's excellent speech on 
Trevelyan's motion for the extension of the franchise. 
With the English Poor Law as we have it and its un- 
restrained administration, he could not assent to any 
such proposal. 

On November 10 I sold some barley, not my best, 
at Northampton market at 43s. per quarter. On the 
13th the Agricultural Labourers' Union held a meeting 
in the village, the rector, the Rev. W. Bury, lending 
them the school and taking the chair. A temperate, 
mild affair, with justice on the labourers' side. 

Being in pain and disabled from sciatica and rheu- 
matism, I consulted Sir William Gull. The interview was 
rather singular. By his direction I stripped myself naked, 
and lay down on a sofa. The great man then, instead 


of making any critical examination, entered on a dis- 
cussion on hospital management and admission. We 
had previously gone into this question, I think at Sir 
Thomas Buxton's house, and it was one on which we 
agreed that disease, not poverty, was the proper quali- 
fication for admission to free hospital treatment. I 
think this must have gone on for over a quarter of an 
hour, when I suggested that there were patients waiting, 
and he would do well to dispose of my case ; so he 
wrote a prescription and told me to come again in a 
month. I saw him again in a month's time, and very 
much the same conversation and examination took 

July 17, 1878. My sciatica had now become so painful 
that I could not keep my seat in the House, but had to 
go into a corridor upstairs and lie down till half -past one 
in the morning. 

In September I had a terrible paroxysm of sciatica, 
causing me to roll on the floor for twenty minutes, and 
Hedley, the doctor, a clever fellow, came to advise me. 
He blistered me, but I could not sit down to any meal, 
and I began to get very weak. In spite, however, of 
this I went off on the 9th to Wilburton, taking Elev 
Dombu, my Norwegian servant, with me. I contrived 
to drive over the farms, and fell in with Tom Saberton, 
whom I had not seen for twenty years. The tenants' 
mismanagement was very trying to see and I felt sure 
that trouble was not far off. The tune and prices 
were getting worse, and reached the climax next 

On September 111 laid a red brick in the house which 
Norfolk was building for himself ; and on the 14th I went 
off to Buxton. I put myself under that excellent apothe- 


cary Mr. Shipton at 5s. a visit, in his house, paid over 
the counter. I took the baths and his medicine as well 
as the Buxton water. Charles and Emily Isham came, 
Charles so crippled with rheumatism that he moved about 
by preference on all fours. Emily covered him over 
with a rug while he took his exercises on his hands and 
knees in the Crescent, groaning at intervals. This 
strange sight alarmed the fly horses, who shied at him 
to such a degree that the drivers made complaint, and 
he had to do his crawling out of sight. 

Not having got rid entirely of sciatica, I went to 
Ramsgate on October 12, joining the Ishams there. 
I tried Turkish baths, and eating shrimps at Pegwell 

On Tuesday, June 25, 1878, I brought to an end by a 
bold suggestion a controversy over a " Cattle Diseases " 
Bill which had been prolonged for several days in the 
House. Punch said my suggestion was " a sensible one in 
which, in spite of Mr. Read and Mr. Chaplin, the Chan- 
cellor of the Exchequer was fain to take refuge " ; 
adding, " The Government should thank Mr. Pell for 
showing them the way out of a dilemma and in a case, 
too, where even their well-compacted majority seemed in 
danger of falling to pieces under their feet. 

" Punch much admires you, Albert Pell ; 
The reason why he's glad to tell, 
'Tis that with common sense's spell 
You guide your party, Albert Pell." 

On July 8 the Lords' amendments to the Poor Law 
Amendment Bill were considered very late at night, 
and Goschen and I protested against this being done 
when no report of our remarks could be 


On the 10th I went down to Tiptree Hall to Mr. Mechi's 
annual meeting. He said it was to be his last one : he was 
seventy-six years old, a cheery, hearty, honest man as 
ever lived, but of course an enthusiast, and not in any 
sense an authority on agricultural science or practice, 
over which he must have wasted thousands. The 
statement he made on this occasion he afterwards 
printed, and gave me a copy of it. In it he said he 
knew the land of this kingdom, taken as a whole, to be 
not half farmed, and that our home-grown food could 
be considerably and profitably increased by a greater 
outlay of landlords' and tenants' capital, adding that 
while on some farms 20 or more per acre tenants' capital 
was employed, the average in England was only 6, 
and in Ireland 1. He said agriculture was shackled 
and fettered by antiquated land laws, and advocated 
its becoming a chattel for purposes of sale and transfer. 
He purchased this farm at 25 an acre in 1841. It has 
since been valued at 50 an acre. In 1868 the produce, 
wheat and straw off willow fields, sold for 29 4s. an acre, 
the grain making 63s. per quarter. He advocated 
covered yards, drains, steam in the field and at the 
homestead. Under the surface of the fields iron pipes 
were laid with hydrants to convey and distribute liquid 
manure to the crops a hideous, unprofitable outlay. 
Mr. Mechi had resided for thirty-five years on the farm, 
and all his children were born there. His crops looked 
very good, but the loss of money on their production 
must have been considerable. 

On July 17, 1878, on the invitation of Jacob Wilson, 
Tom Booth, of Shorthorn cattle notoriety, Clare S. Read 
and I dined in the Star and Garter at Richmond, in 
recognition of the important part we had taken in legis- 


lation and otherwise for the suppression of cattle diseases 
and the protection against its introduction from foreign 
countries. Parliament was now much occupied over 
this question. Mr. Barclay, M.P. for Forfarshire, con- 
tinuing most unreasonably fractious and contentious, 
I was moved to dress him down in debate, which 
I did amidst the cheers of the House on both 

On Saturday, the 27th, after the meeting of the 
Metropolitan Asylums Board, I attended the banquet 
given to Lords Salisbury and Beaconsfield at the 
Wellington Riding School. 

On August 1 I went with C. S. Read to visit Mr. 
J. B. Lawes' experimental farm at Rothamsted. Oh, 
how unlike this business to Mechi's at Tiptree ! The 
brains of both men equally active and vigorous, but in 
one speculative, in the other scientific. Before leaving 
the question of Mr. Mechi's farm I may mention that 
a Mr. Hoyle wrote to The Times during the very bad 
harvest of 1881 in praise of his methods, and to this 
letter I was tempted to reply in the following terms : 


" SIB, What can your correspondent, Mr. William 
Hoyle, in The Times of September 28, mean by inviting 
us to farm the whole cultivated land of the country 
after the fashion of the Tiptree farm ? 

" The suggestion, surely, is a silly one, after the general 
conclusion sensible men have come to not to follow the 
Tiptree practice, its failure as a commercial undertaking 
being hardly disputed. Mr. Mechi was a genial, honour- 
able, enterprising, and active man, making money as 


a tradesman and obtaining notoriety as a farmer. His 
generosity and hospitality made Tiptree the happy 
hunting-ground for years of the theorist and enthusiast 
as well as of the agricultural loafer, who, with a mixture 
of pity and contempt, was ever ready to back his 
ephemeral opinions against the time-tried practice of 
professional farmers. The eccentricities of farming were 
welcomed at Tiptree and fostered with the abundant 
capital the owner once had at his disposal. So long as 
sunny seasons and public applause cheered the outlay, 
and a system of bookkeeping, not confined to farming, 
permitted accumulated losses to be carried to the capital 
account, the enterprise went forward, but the end of it 
all was not a financial success. 

" This, then, is the lure Mr. William Hoyle flutters to 
divert 750,000,000 from existing securities at remunera- 
tive interest to the hazardous investment in live and 
dead farming stock and agricultural experiments. Does 
any one in his senses suppose that higher farming is a 
remedy for lower prices, or that adding to capital, making 
a poor return, further capital, that makes no return at 
all, is advice that farmers will follow, or that they can 
be brought to believe that a drastic change in the land 
laws will increase the yield of any farm occupied under 
fair and business-like conditions ? As well contend 
that by taking thought a farmer might add a cubit to 
his stature. It is notorious that men working their own 
land are not faring better than many of their brethren 
who hold the land of others, and that those who have 
weathered the storm best are, in many instances, very 
humble some might call them ignorant or uninformed 
husbandmen, who work with their own hands on dairy 
farms or in localities where, from the high price of labour, 


the unremitting toil of members of the family is exceed- 
ingly remunerative. With respect to the laws regulating 
the devolution of landed property, so far as they directly 
encourage the acquisition of enormous estates as a mere 
investment for money or personal aggrandisement, they 
are a source of weakness to the landed interest, as well 
as productive of social mischief, the extent of which it 
is difficult to estimate ; but in the practical conduct of 
business neither they nor foreign competition can be 
regarded with the same apprehension and concern as 
that which the state of the barometer, the sun, and the 
rain excite in the minds of those who have crops to 
sow and to save. 

" I am, your obedient servant, 



During all this session, though suffering much pain from 
sciatica, I made good attendances at St. George's East 
Board of Guardians, and the Metropolitan Asylums Board, 
and took an active part in the sanitary proceedings 
instituted at Brixworth, and I was now appointed a 
member of the Royal Commission to inquire into the 
parochial charities of the City of London. 

On November 19, 1878, I was in London at the Royal 
Commission on City Parochial Charities. On the follow- 
ing Sunday I thought it would be well to be present 
at the distribution of a dole, so went to morning service 
at St. Clement's, Eastcheap a very comfortably furnished 
church, there being an endowment, I think, for this purpose 
out of these charities. The carpets and the cushions 
were all that could be wished. I saw but one citizen 
at the service, a fine, tall, portly old gentleman with 


a grand head of white hair. After the Holy Communion 
I waited to see the dole of loaves, arranged in shelves 
at the west end of the north aisle, given away, but only 
one applicant (by deputy) put in an appearance. I then 
visited a charity pensioner's home in Swan Lane. The 
house was a very good one, occupied by a mother, son, 
and two daughters, all except the mother in very re- 
munerative employment. They were at dinner, and 
invited me to sit down to it. They knew who I was, and 
in the simplest, plainest way answered my inquiries. What 
with wages and the city pension, the income was a really 
comfortable one ; but with all this the mother was a 
pauper in receipt of out-door relief from the city 
guardians. Noticing my surprise, the son said they had 
been advised by the relieving officer to relinquish this, 
and they meant to do so. 

On May 9, 1879, 1 was in London, and appointed chair- 
man of the Metropolitan Poor Law Guardians' Association. 
The next day was the last meeting of the Select Com- 
mittee on Commons. I was appointed by the House 
to sit on every Select Committee on Commons, and when 
dealing with Hampstead, I upset the Commissioners' 
proposal to level and tidy up Hampstead Heath as a 
regulated common, and it was ordered to remain in its 
present condition, with its old gravel-hole mounds and 
water-splashes untouched, thus preserving its wild 
and beautiful surface. I was very proud of this piece 
of legislation. On the 25th, at St. Stephen's Chambers, 
Lord Abergavenny, Sir Wm. Dyke, Lord Henry Thynne, 
Rowland Winn, Hardcastle, and myself consulted for 
two hours over election arrangements. On Saturday, 
June 6, the House of Commons did not adjourn till 
ten minutes into Sunday morning. 


On June 14 a Royal Commission on Agriculture was 
appointed, of which the Duke of Richmond became 
chairman ; and I heard that next day the Cabinet would 
consider whether I should visit America as an assistant 
commissioner. On the 15th the Duke told me that I was 
appointed with Clare Sewell Read to that office, I de- 
clined the services of a secretary. On June 19, 1879, I 
had an interview with Sir Alexander Grant, who gave 
me much useful Canadian information ; and in the evening 
I dined with the Duke of Richmond and Sir Stafford 
Northcote at the Carlton. The next day I went to Silver, 
the outfitter, in Cornhill, and procured what I wanted for 
the expedition, which did not include either a six-shooter 
or bowie-knife ; the latter, in fact, had quite gone out of 
fashion as an article of dress in the United States. I also 
called on Sir John MacDonald (in Dover Street), the 
Prime Minister of Canada. His likeness to Disraeli in 
features was very remarkable. On Saturday I had an 
interview with Lord Spencer at Northampton, and talked 
over my visit to America with him. On Monday I went 
all over the farm with my wife on her new black pony, and 
at 10.40 a.m. the next day I parted with her on the bridge 
over the railway at Brixworth station, and started for 
America. Read joined me at Bletchley station, and we 
got on board the Inman liner, City of Montreal, at 
Liverpool, at a quarter to four that afternoon. 

On the last day of November, a Sunday, at Washington, 
I was attacked sharply with acute rheumatism, but I 
went to church, and afterwards walked about on the 
sunny side of the street, but getting lamer every step. 
On returning, the pain was so severe that I fainted, 
falling on a new ribbed Brussels carpet, which cut my 
temples open like a smith's rasp. However, as I had an 


introduction to General Sherman, whose dogged valour 
I had read about and admired, as well as the inspiriting 
music of his " March to the South," I determined, come 
what might, to carry out the visit on the next morning, 
Monday. I was introduced to him in his office, and on 
entering it with my disfigured face I said I had not been 
drunk or fighting, though for fighting I should like to 
have been with him in the south. He gave me a hearty 
shake of the hand, and asked, as he heard I had been over 
so much of his country, whether I had been into the 
Yellowstone Park. As I had not, he said I must go back 
and see it before returning. I told him that was out of 
the question ; I hoped to be in England by Christmas Day. 
" Well, then," he said, " as that is so, I will show you what 
it is like," and he took from a bureau sheet after sheet 
of large water-colours of the park, saying that, bright and 
vivid as they were, the actual colouring in the park of 
the spots they represented was higher and brighter. 
How true this was, I learned some three years afterwards, 
on visiting the places myself. He was a weather-beaten, 
humorous-looking, though severe warrior. I fancied 
there was something about him like William Edward 
Forster ; possibly it was the air of resolution and honesty 
which, in my judgment, distinguished them both. 

After our interview, during which I was in great pain, 
I returned to bed, and did not leave the room till we took 
the train to New York, and on December 101 was carried 
on board the Cunarder. She was a small vessel, as full, 
the captain told me, of freight as an egg. The passage 
was not a smooth one, and the weight of the bed-clothes 
even caused me much suffering. The doctor was a 
Scotchman, constantly " tasting." His remedies did 
no good ; the steward told me I was taking doses out of 


each of the bottles in his dispensary in a regular rota, 
and that if none did me good the doctor would in the end 
mix them all together as a last resort. A fellow-passenger, 
American, also rheumatic and crippled, crept in to 
advise me to try a " cocktail," as he was doing, made up 
of champagne and brandy. He, however, never paid me 
a second visit, and at Liverpool I saw him carried ashore, 
a bundle of blue dressing-gown and scarlet slippers, on 
a sailor's back in a drizzling rain. Having announced my 
intention of not being carried ashore, many of the ship's 
company stood on deck to see how I would leave the ship, 
which I managed by putting my swollen arms round the 
necks of two stewards, and so shuffling away. They 
rolled me up on the floor of a cab, and away I went to the 
Midland station. It was Sunday, and no trams going 
south till night. I told the stationmaster I was certain 
Mr. Allport, the General Manager, would help me for- 
ward if they would let him know of the fix I was in. 
" He is dead," was the remark made. Then I said, 
" Send to Mr. John Torr, the member for Liverpool ; he 
will come and assist me." " He is dead," was again 
repeated. However, after an hour or so of misery, 
arrangements were made for stopping some expresses, 
and in the evening of the shortest day of the year we 
heard the bells ringing for service as I and Read passed 
the village church, and I was lifted into bed in my own 
house, where I lay for several weeks in pain and in con- 
tinued danger of my life. Milk more than medicine 
saved it. I urged the local doctor to give me salicylic 
acid, but he steadfastly refused, and on my desiring to 
know why he was so obstinate, he excused himself by 
saying he had tried it on five patients, and killed four of 
them. At last, after some weeks of restless nights lying 



on my back, I turned over in a doze on my right side, fell 
fast asleep for several hours, and woke a convalescent. 
In all, upon these my first American experiences, I had 
travelled 16,000 miles right on end, encountering two 
winters within four months, with spells of summer heat 
intervening, but on the whole in favourable weather, and 
with no accidents or misfortune. Pain and sickness did 
not come till I was on the point of returning, and after 
that nature let sleep " knit up the ravelled sleeve of 
care," and sent me on my way rejoicing. Nothing could 
exceed the kindness of Read and the care he took of me 
when helpless with fever and pain. I feel I must have 
been a great trial to him, but he bore with me bravely 
and patiently to the end. 

I began the year 1880 in bed with rheumatic fever, 
with very little or no change for the better until 
January 10, when I had a good sleep at night ; after 
which, recovery began, but I hardly got out of the house 
before the 26th. All my neighbours far and near were 
most kind in calling to inquire. On February 9 I went up 
to London, and was in the House of Commons. Members 
from both sides were wonderfully kind in their inquiries 
and in wishing me speedy recovery. I began now to talk 
over our American report with C. S. Read, and to attend 
meetings of the Royal Commission on City Parochial 
Charities, and to make arrangements for the coming 
General Election. 

On March 2 I spoke in the House in debate on a 
Game Bill, and afterwards was " teller " with Sir 
William Harcourt. On March 8 the Dissolution of 
Parliament was announced, and at once I was engaged 
in a contest for my seat, T. T. Paget being the Radical 
candidate. On February 12 I signed the Report of the 


City Parochial Charities Commission. I also saw the 
Duke of Richmond, and told him that the report of C. S. 
Read and myself must stand over for election matters. 
At Northampton market some farmers told me they 
would not vote for Lord Burghley, as he had offended 
them in a speech reflecting on their style of living. 

On March 151 left my election address with my agent 
for publication, and on the 23rd attended a political 
gathering of South Leicestershire and Northamptonshire 
electors at Market Harborough. I spoke in the Corn 
Exchange, so did Lord Burghley and Sackville, but 
Robert Spencer from a wagonette in the street. 
I went to hear him. The contrast between the little 
aristocrat-dandy and the audience was very amusing, but 
he played his part well. As he was assuring the cheering 
mob of his devotion to " Progress," the horse started on 
and jerked him nearly on his back. He saved himself, 
however, and explained this was not the sort of progress 
he advocated, not progress backwards. 

Without loss of time I spoke in the principal towns 
of the division, and in the midst of it all our old 
servant, Mrs. Butlin, died. She was one of the first and 
best of servants when we came to live at Hazelbeech. 
After ten days', bar Sundays, continuous speaking, the 
nominations took place on April 2, and the next day I 
went to London to vote for George Hamilton and 
Coope, candidates for Middlesex, when Labouchere and 
Bradlaugh were returned for Northampton. The 7th 
was my polling day, and on the 8th I found myself re- 
turned M.P. for South Leicestershire, but my colleague, 
W. Heygate, was unseated by T. T. Paget. 

This year our rector, William Bury, decided to 
pull down the frightful modern chancel, and replace 


it with one in better taste and more worthy of the 

On April 19 I was one of a large party meeting at 
Bridgewater House, where Lord Beaconsfield declared 
his intention of continuing to lead the party ; we met at 
3 and left at 5.50. He spoke for an hour and a half, 
and advised our voting with the Government when their 
policy or measures were opposed by the revolutionary 
party, and added that the reconstruction of party 
organisation would be entrusted to a committee of five, 
chosen from Lords and Commons, with W. H. Smith 
at their head. The next day I went to W. H. Smith in 
Charles Street,and on with him to Lord Sandon, where Lord 
George Hamilton met us, and we discussed the proposed 
Education Act Amendment Bill, and I made suggestions 
which were left to be discussed by the ex-Cabinet. 

On June 4 C. S. Read and I delivered the greater 
part of our American Report to the printers. I was 
much interested in the question of the Hare and Rabbit 
Bill, desiring to strike them out of the game list, and 
give hares a close time. On the 18th I dined with 
W. E. Forster, and thought him uneasy about Ireland. 
On the 23rd there was a scene in the House, and debate 
over Bradlaugh, who in the end was locked up in the 
clock tower. I was quite prepared to resist his admission 
as long as he refused to take the oath, which, in my hearing, 
he stated he did, because " the oath had no binding effect 
on him." He was willing and offered to affirm, but the 
orders of the House did not authorise affirmation in such 
a case. Upon this he professed his readiness to take the 
oath, whereupon I resolved to do my best to exclude him. 
On July 8 I moved a resolution on Compensation to 
Tenants (Ireland) Bill. Albert Grey seconded me (two 


Alberts in the field together), and we came within 
fifty-five of the Government votes on the division. 
On the 9th C. S. Read and I revised the proof of 
our American report, which was delivered as soon as 

On July 21 I met at Dunvegan Castle, Magee (Peter- 
borough) and his daughter. I always mixed the Bishop's 
" materials " for him after dinner. I understood the 
proportions, and then his wit would pour out. He gave 
us a version of " The Irishman's Dream," a story told first, 
I believe, by a very serious person, who would have been 
glad to disavow it, but its intrinsic wit and its recitation 
by such humourists as Magee have given it a certain 
immortality. " I dreamt that I dined with the Pope 
excellent fish and mate, and the wine was good ; and his 
Holiness said, ' Maybe, Mr. O'Shaughnessy, you would 
be taking whiskey with your dessert, and I said, * If it 
pleases your Holiness, and your Holiness prefers it, I 
would take whiskey.' And his Holiness replied that he 
preferred such whiskey as he had in his cellars to any 
wine that was ever under cork. It was suprame whiskey, 
and above proof. So we decided to take whiskey, and 
his Holiness asked me whether I would take it with hot 
water or with cold, and I said, ' If your Holiness is of the 
same mind, I will take it hot,' and his Holiness com- 
manded the butler to fetch hot water, but the servant 
was that time about it, that I awoke from my drame, and 
by the powers, I wish now I had said I would take it cold 
on the spot." 

On October 27, 1880, my mother's first cousin Louie 
MacLeod of MacLeod died. She was a marvellously 
handsome woman, and MacLeod was as good-looking. 
I heard that when the two danced a reel at the Queen's 


Ball it created quite a sensation. I was very fond of 
them both : always kind to me. 

On January 25, 1881, I was at an " Irish " sitting of 
the House till seven o'clock the next morning. On 
January 31 the House sat again all night, and so it did 
the following day and night, so I did not get to bed till 
five o'clock on the morning of February 2. On the 3rd 
I attended a meeting at Lord Beaconsfield's house, No. 19, 
Curzon Street, to consider Mr. Gladstone's resolutions, 
upon which Lord Beaconsfield gave us advice. On the 
10th I dined with Sir William Harcourt. He said he 
would try to find half a dozen as good Radicals as my- 
self to meet me. We had a delightful party, and very 
amusing, with Sir Wilfrid Lawson sitting next me. 

At this period I was strenuously opposing the progress 
of the Rivers Conservancy and Floods Bill, and ulti- 
mately succeeded in putting an end to that inequitable 
measure. My objections are more fully given in the 
following letter addressed to the Leicestershire Committee 
of Agriculture. 


" LONDON, February 11, 1881. 

" DEAR SIR, I shall be detained in London to-morrow 
by a meeting of the Commission on the City Companies, 
or I should have made a point of attending the discus- 
sion on the Rivers Flood Bill. As I am unable to be 
present, perhaps you will allow me to express in writing 
how earnestly I hope the meeting will not, without full 
discussion, adopt the view of levying rates over large 
areas for the benefit of small ones. We have daily 
experience of its effects in the costly and careless ap- 


plication of Poor Law funds under the Union Rating 
Acts. Here, however, it may be said that the general 
benefit of the poor was in contemplation and concerned. 
This is not, however, pretended in the case in point. 
The benefit expected to come from funds raised over the 
whole catchment basin of a stream is to be confined to 
a very small strip viz. the meadows and towns on its 
banks. It may be expected that we shall thus set in 
motion the ambition of enthusiastic theorists, dealing with 
funds not furnished in any due proportion by them- 
selves, and calling into existence the extravagant and 
costly schemes of second-rate engineers, with the ac- 
companying host of medical officers of health and legal 
advisers. It is bad enough already for our fields and 
farms to be taxed under the sanitary laws for the con- 
struction of sewers to house property. The injustice 
has at last forced itself upon the convictions of the 
country people, and is checking the otherwise desirable 
action of the rural sanitary authorities in works which 
in the hands of house owners would be made remuner- 
ative. I hope it is not too late to insist on the adoption 
of more modest proposals for the improvement of our 
watercourses ; that the districts rated will be those 
only which are benefited in income, and as small as is 
consistent with carrying out the objects of legislation. 
The removal of a few mill-dams and weirs, razing of the 
sharp bends of the bank, the removal of osier beds, quick 
hedges, and obstructive trees and shoals, the regular 
' reading ' of weeds in summer, and ' feying ' out the mud 
in the autumn, will, in ordinary seasons, give all the 
relief that is needed. In extraordinary times of rain, such 
as we are now having, and have for two years suffered 
from, I fear we must submit to some inconvenience 

312 i88i 

or loss ; but it is not all loss to the valleys ; a good winter 
flood brings wealth with it to the lowlands, and in some 
measure compensates for a periodic loss of the hay crop. 
In conclusion, I would say the times just now are not 
such, I must confess, as encourage us to launch out 
into any expense, whether charged on the rates or not, 
beyond that absolutely needed to remove obvious causes 
of mischief without large expenditure, and I would 
add that if anything of this nature is to be done at the 
cost of the rates, then, in my judgment, the rates 
should be levied exclusively on the owners and not on 
the occupiers of the land. 

"I am, yours faithfully, 


June 30, 1881, I got up to London by 5.15. Went to 
the House of Commons and dined with Lord Overstone, 
who says that Sir Robert Peel told him he believed the 
Irish would ultimately obtain Home Rule. Lord Over- 
stone also told me he believed the relief given after the 
Irish famine of 1847 did harm, and not good. On July 2 
I went with others by a special train to the Channel 
Tunnel Works at Dover. Nearly 800 yards had been 
bored by Beaumont's machine driven by compressed air. 
It was my friend Rowland Whin's party, franked by 
Sir Edward Watkin, who gave us an excellent lunch 
at the Warden Hotel. All this was very interesting, 
but I am not for completing the job. With the 
tunnel finished, to whose care is the key to be en- 
trusted at this end ? Not to Gladstone's, I pray, or 
to Parnell's. 

On Monday, August 1, my opposition to the Con- 
servancy of Rivers and Floods Bill bore fruit, and the 


Bill was withdrawn. It was an iniquitous measure, 
imposing a tax on the high lands for works on the rivers 
where floods were generally caused by mill-dams and the 
neglect of riparian owners to cleanse and straighten the 

August 16, 1881, I went to London to a board meeting, 
and afterwards to the Charity Organisation Society's 
rooms in the Commercial Road to meet Crowder, and with 
him to visit the worst courts in St. George-in-the-East. 
Some we found in sad condition. The pavement in one 
was covered three inches deep all over with sewage filth, 
to the discredit of the vestry, the sanitary authority. In 
one poor house I asked if I might taste any milk they had 
by them, and found it good and " whole " ; at the next it 
was very poor and inferior. On asking the tenant how 
this difference was, she said the neighbour belonged 
to Mr. X.'s " walk," but her house was on Mr. Y.'s 
" walk," and she must take what he supplied. 
I fancy she had to submit because she was in debt to 
Mr. Y. 

On February 14, 1882, in the House of Commons 
I brought in my Vagrancy Bill. On the following day 
at the Mansion House I spoke at Lady Bective's " British 
Wool Manufactures " meeting, following Lord Salisbury ; 
and then dined with Right Hon. W. E. Forster, who 
agrees that the Irish people have not shown courage in 
resisting outrages. 

On Monday, April 3, 1882, I read a paper on Arthur 
Young at the Farmers' Club. John Bright got hold 
of a report of this in some newspaper, and he and Wm. 
Fowler, M.P. for Cambridge, pressed me to write a Life 
of Arthur Young, for the publishing of which they would 
contribute funds ; but I dared not attempt it, though I 


wrote a longer memoir of him for the journal of the 
Royal Agricultural Society.* 

On April 22, 1882, came the first swallow, and I sold 
my wheat at Northampton at 48s. a quarter, and black 
oats at Is. a stone. On the 24th, the cuckoo. 

William Harcourt telling me, that if I would consent, 
he would give me something to keep me quiet for a 
year or two, put me on the Royal Commission on City 
Guilds. This led to many invitations to City dinners. 
I may here say that I made a stout stand for the 
preservation of hospitable feasts in the Halls of the 

On May 2 in the House of Commons we had a ministerial 
statement. My friend W. E. Forster resigned, and Lord 
Spencer went to Ireland. Things there were in a pretty 
mess. At a party meeting at the Carlton (S. North - 
cote in the chair), we agreed to Sir M. Hicks-Beach's 
notice of motion for immediate discussion of Irish 

That night in a corridor of the House of Commons I 
met Lord Frederick Cavendish, just appointed Chief 
Secretary for Ireland, and to start there at once. I wished 
him a hearty goodbye, reminding him, though of different 
politics, what agreement there was between us on some 
subjects, especially Poor Law administration, and now we 
were to see no more of each other. " Oh dear, no ! " he said. 
" I will be back on Monday," throwing his long fair hair 
off his forehead, as was his habit. On Sunday morning, 
however, at Hazelbeech I got the news of his murder, 
and that of Mr. Burke, at Dublin, in the Phoenix Park. 
Lord Spencer actually saw the tragedy at a distance 

* " Arthur Young," by Albert Pell. Journal of the Royal Agri- 
cultural Society, part I. of Vol. IV. 3rd series. March 31, 1893. 


from a window in the castle. On the llth another 
Coercion Bill for Ireland was brought in and read 
the first time. My contempt for Gladstone grew 

On Saturday, the 13th, the big bell for St. Paul's on 
its road to London went through Lamport at twelve 
o'clock. I and my wife drove off to see it drawn on a 
" boiler " trolly by a traction-engine ; another engine 
followed, drawing the men's hut, and as an auxiliary in 
the event of difficulties. 

When on our yearly excursion to the Lakes this year 
I slipped on an inclined slab, and shot down, feet first, 
to its sharp edge, of which, however, I kept my head 
clear, and went over like an avalanche ; before reaching 
the ground below, I revolved twice like a rifle 
bullet, but came down only shaken. W. Bury was 
distracted with laughter and fear, and assured me if 
I had made another turn " I should have hummed " 
like a top. 

On Tuesday, the 8th, I got the second reading of my 
Vagrancy Bill, which afterwards became law ; and the 
next day, while asleep on one of the benches in the House, 
behind the Speaker's chair, I was seized with a fainting 
fit. I contrived to get into the division lobby, where 
I fairly " went off." When I came-to, I found Rowland 
Winn and Harry Chaplin sitting by me, and Chaplin 
exhorting Winn to send for a doctor, to which Winn 
was exclaiming, " Leave him alone ! leave him alone ! 
He won't stand a doctor, he'll ask for a lobster directly." 
However, they got me to my lodgings in Cleveland Row. 
There I found that if I leaned my head on one side over 
my left shoulder, I fainted away at once, and much 
the same result came from lying on my left side. So 


I anchored myself in bed on my right side by clutching 
hold with my left hand of the brass rail above the pillow. 
As I wished to vote in nine divisions the next day, I 
did not go home till Saturday, when Mr. Hedley, the 
doctor, came. As he asked me to tell him what was 
the matter, I sat on the sofa, placing him in a chair 
opposite ; then leaning my head to the left, I was " gone " 
in no time. On examination, he said my heart was 
" curious," but with no disease. It was some weeks 
before I was all right. 

On December 23, 1882, I sailed to the United States 
on the affairs of a cattle company, and drew up a report 
which induced the directors to rescind a contract which 
they had entered into for the purchase of a ranche 
in Colorado. On February 4, 1883, I was back in 

The following remarks, reprinted from The Farmer and 
the Chamber of Agriculture Journal of December 15, 1883, 
record my settled convictions on the subject of Free 
Trade. The motion by Mr. C. S. Read, M.P., was : That 
the Central Chamber of Agriculture, believing that the 
long depression of agriculture injuriously affects other in- 
dustries, is of opinion that a Parliamentary Committee 
should forthwith inquire into the causes of this general 
depression, and recommend such practical steps as may be 
deemed desirable. Thereupon Mr. T. Carrington Smith 
moved the following amendment : That the proposed 
inquiry is undesirable, inasmuch as it would encourage 
farmers to expect such legislative action as, in the opinion 

of the Chamber, is impracticable. 


* On August 18, 1883, Mr. Pell again visited the United States to 
witness the junction of the two sections of the Northern Pacific Railroad, 
the one from the east and the other from the west. 


MB. PELL, M.P., said: I think that I may join with 
my friend Mr. Carrington Smith in the regret that he has 
expressed that in supporting the amendment we should 
be placed in a position not entirely in harmony with 
the bulk of those whom I am now addressing. Never- 
theless, I cannot let the opportunity go by, as we have 
been summoned to consider the question of Free Trade 
and Protection (" No, no ") because that is really 
what it is. We have been summoned to consider that 
question, and I cannot allow the opportunity to go by 
without uttering a few remarks upon the subject. My 
friend Mr. Clare Sewell Read, who moved the motion 
for the inquiry by a Parliamentary Committee, said he 
did not know that any good would come from it. 

Mr. READ. No. 

Mr. PELL. He says " No." Then I misunderstood 
him. At all events, I think we may say this that he 
did not point out in precise terms what good we might 
expect to come from it. With his usual ability and his 
extremely good debating powers, he made a very fair 
case for the resolution. He told us that all great changes 
in legislation or in Parliamentary action had been pre- 
ceded by inquiry. I believe that to be true, but it has 
been inquiry with a definite object. It has been perfectly 
well known, when the inquiry was made, what those 
who urged it were aiming at. Now, it has not been made 
clear to us on this occasion. It has been suggested that 
the desire of those who are urging this inquiry is to 
get something in the nature of protection for agriculture. 
The last speaker told us just now that we Free Traders 
in England are the laughing-stock of other nations. 
Well, then, I will say in answer to that, according to 
the old proverb, " Let those laugh who win." (Hear, 


hear, and ironical cheers.) I am to understand by those 
cheers that England has not been a winning nation in 
the great run which she has had since the year 1846. 
I will not stop to discuss that question. Let anybody 
walk out into the Strand or into the country, or let 
anybody travel (as I do) third class from one end of the 
kingdom to the other and answer this question : Whether 
or not the people are not happier and in a better con- 
dition than they were when I was a boy ? But, sir, I 
have another thing to say. I remember those old debates 
on Free Trade and Protection when I was young, and 
I well remember what it was that converted me to my 
present belief, that the arguments used for Protection 
were as bad as it was possible for them to be. I remember 
it being asserted by those who were supporting Protection 
at that time and opposing Free Trade that you would 
have wheat down to 20s. a quarter. Well, I fancy that 
that argument was the worst in the world that they could 
make use of, because there is nothing that the people 
would like better than to have wheat down to 10s. I 
do not think that we need enter into that now, but what 
I have to address my remarks to is the question, What 
is this inquiry meant for ? Can it tell us farmers any- 
thing more than we know now ? that we have the 
greatest difficulty in making the two ends meet. That, 
just now, is on arable farms out of the question. Like 
my friend Mr. Read and he knows it perfectly well 
I have farmed and am farming a good deal of arable 
land. It is in Cambridgeshire, one of those counties 
which have been very hard hit indeed by the low price 
of grain, and I cannot admit that this good season which 
we have had has got us out of our difficulties in any 
way whatever. In fact, we do not have the sympathy 


which we had last year, because the people say, " If you 
are not making money, you ought to be making it." 
They forget that at the present moment really good, 
excellent wheat is selling in Cambridge market for 29s. 
a quarter. My sufferings are not therefore theoretical ; 
but I want to know what the proposers of the resolution 
expect to get out of this inquiry ? When the Com- 
mittee is drafted, who are they going to put on it, and 
with what object are the members going to serve on 
the Committee ? Is it merely for inquiry ? Can any 
Committee tell us more about the subject than we know 
ourselves we, in this room, who are farmers and land- 
owners ? Is any gentleman going to get up and point 
out what the Committee is to suggest ? I am glad to 
hear that many in this room endorse the views which 
I hold, that we have very good reason to believe 
that we may get rid of some of the unfair taxation 
which is imposed upon us. But you will weaken the 
demand for the remedy and postpone the remedy if you 
interpose an inquiry by Parliament as to whether there 
may not be some better way of improving our condition. 
I believe and I think that my friend Mr. Read will 
believe that we shall get nothing which will improve 
our position out of a Parliamentary inquiry. It is 
impossible, and it is perfectly ridiculous to suppose 
that this country is going to submit for one moment 
to any taxes on human food. It is absolutely ridiculous. 
Why, I myself would join with the thousands of my 
poorer fellow-creatures in resisting any such attempt. 
Then some people say, " Oh ! but let us see if a Parlia- 
mentary inquiry will not enable you to put a duty on 
grain which will raise the price and thereby improve 
the farmer's position, and at the same time not raise 


the price of bread." Well, suggestions of that sort are 
really unworthy of members of this Chamber of Agri- 
culture. Then, sir, what is to come of the inquiry after 
all ? Nothing but a moan, nothing but an appeal to 
unsympathetic millions who do not care twopence really 
whether you win or lose by your farming, provided they 
get their food good and cheap. And can we blame 
them for it ? I have said nothing about the improved 
prospects of agriculture. I try my best. I go in for 
milk. I do not go in for cheese, but I go in for those 
other alternative methods of making money if I can. 
I have not succeeded yet (laughter) but I have not 
given up wheat-growing. I have sown just as much 
in Cambridgeshire as ever before. I have sown less in 
the midland counties, but I believe that in the fine, deep 
land in the eastern counties we still have an inducement 
to grow wheat. One other point before I sit down. 
Though there was a murmur of disapproval at the state- 
ment made by Mr. Carrington Smith with regard to 
laying down the land for grass, I thought the suggestion 
a very wise one. Sir John Bennet Lawes has laid 
down very clearly and with great truth that the devotion 
of land to grass is succeeded by an accumulation of 
ammonia and the elements of fertility in the form of 
a sort of savings bank which belongs to the landlord, 
and this is available at a year's notice when you like 
to break the land up again. If the thing is to be argued 
out, I do not think we should omit that. We are not yet 
blockaded ; but I believe that if we were, we should then 
have a reserve of power to produce grain which we should 
not now possess when the country is arable. I rejoice 
that I have had an opportunity of avowing my old Free 
Trade principles on this occasion. 


In 1885 I retired from Parliament, and let the con- 
stituency know of my intention in January. The 
following letter, in which I confirmed my expressed 
intention not to seek re-election, gave me a further 
opportunity of testifying my belief as to the futility of 
proposals for a return to Protection. 

To Mr. C. B. Lowe, who had written to me, to 
ask whether a newspaper report, that I would stand for 
the Market Harborough division, was correct, I replied 
in the following letter : 

"DEAR MR. LOWE, In reply to your note about the 
newspaper report, I have never given the slightest intima- 
tion of an intention to offer myself as a candidate for any 
one of the new seats. It is not for me to place myself 
in such a position without an invitation to do so. 

" I think it right to add that, having heard a good deal 
lately of a desire among some of my friends to re-impose 
import duties on food and other articles of commerce, 
I must frankly say that whether that proposal is dis- 
guised under the misleading title of Fair Trade or 
avowed under that of Protection, it will have no support 
from me. Beyond question our country has, on the 
whole, prospered greatly with Free Trade, and thousands 
have thus been raised from distress and despair to a state 
of independence and comfort. It is true that an un- 
natural depression of agriculture, in some of its branches, 
is troubling many of us myself among the number 
sorely ; still, to my mind, this is tolerable in comparison 
to the evils which afflicted our country when statesmen 
interrupted, and so discouraged the free admission of 
foreign goods, in exchange, for the products of English 



" You are quite at liberty to make any use you like 
of this letter ; and believe me, 

" Yours very truly, 

"HAZELBEECH, January 18, 1885." 

My parliamentary career came to an end in the autumn 
of 1885, when I retired and devoted myself more than 
ever to the business and pleasures of country life, varied 
with the extremely dissimilar exercise of my duties in the 
east of London, and with serving on Royal Commissions. 
Several of my best political friends retired at the same 
time, with whom it has been pleasant now and again to 
revive memories at the Carlton Club. My constituents 
gave me a splendid testimonial of their esteem in the 
form of a very fine silver-gilt cup and cover of Early 
Victorian date, together with some handsome silver plate. 
I was indeed as well treated as I had been supported 
and trusted. Rest, however, was very delightful, and 
I had enough of quiet duties to fulfil to save me from 
snoring away my life in an armchair. 





From, the Journal of tf>e Royal Agricultural Society of England, Second 
Scries, Vol. XXIII. Part II. 1887; Third Series, Vol. X. Part I. 1899. 

THE cases referred to by Mr. Albert Pell in tlie following valuable 
historical paper are cited by him as illustrations of his general 
thesis that " the hardships and exertions of those who, for all 
historical time, have been making the land are ignored, the result 
unappreciated, and vague notions of appropriation justified by 
referring the present value of land to what is termed its unearned 
increment." This modern value, he argues, can, " in purely 
rural districts, be directly traced to the expenditure by land- 
owners for years of energy and money, the capital sum of which, 
when taken into account, may possibly be found to exceed the 
market value of the estates on which it has been expended." 

All the instances of landlords' expenditure given by Mr. Pell, 
with the exception of the last (" Grunty Fen "), are contained 
in his paper contributed to the Journal of the Royal Agricultural 
Society of England in the autumn of 1887 (vol. xxiii., 2nd series, 
1887, pp. 355-374). 

No attempt has been made to bring up to date the statistics 
there given ; but the publication in the Journal in the spring of 
the present year of a Second Retrospect by Mr. Pell (3rd series, 


vol. x., 1899, pp. 136-141) appears to render appropriate the 
republication of his original article, with the added facts as to 
another estate which he has now adduced in support of his con- 
tention that " the ameliorating changes in the land have been 
advanced, not by the silent operations and development of nature, 
or by the natural increment of value, but by the dogged effort 
which the landowner, as a rule, has ever put forth in the making 
of the land, and at any cost fitting it for the practice of improved 
husbandry suited to the progress of civilisation and the modern 
wants of the people." 

JUNE, 1899. 



IT is a common observation that the earth belongs to the race. 
The possession of land is thus regarded as a boon, the title to 
which is of a nature entirely different from that upon which the 
ownership of other property depends. 

Raw land is, however, only a chance to prosecute the struggle 
for existence, and those who try to earn a living by the subju- 
gation of raw land, find that they make the attempt under most 
unfavourable conditions, for land can be " made " or brought 
into use only by great hardship and exertion. 

Men are too frequently blind to the difference between land 
in a state of nature and as they now find it presented to their 
eyes in an old and settled country such as ours, and so lose sight 
of the fact that the real boon or gift which so many covet is to 
get some land, after somebody else has made it fit for use. In 
the absence of information, the hardships and exertions of those 
who, for all historical time, have been making the land are ignored, 
the result unappreciated, and vague notions of appropriation 
justified by referring the present value of land to what is termed 
its " unearned increment." 

The difference, however, between man in the prehistoric age 
and man in the Victorian age is not more marked than that 
between the condition of the land in the former and in the later 
period ; nor are the struggle and the sacrifice, through many 
ages, undergone in the civilisation of the one, any more real than 
those involved in the reformation and improvement of the other. 

The present moment, with the rent of agricultural land in 
England declining under the competition of America and India, 
is not well chosen for attacking the supposed advantage land- 



owners enjoy : rather it seems a most suitable season for inquiry, 
not of a political but of a practical kind, into the causes of the 
modern value, so as to ascertain whether or no it really depends 
upon the extraneous influence of the surrounding capital and 
labour of an industrious and populous society. No doubt such an 
influence is in operation, and has in some instances an appreciable 
effect ; but the case of the landowner and agriculturist is, that 
in purely rural districts this modern value can be directly traced 
to the expenditure for years of energy and money on the subject- 
matter itself by its owners, the capital sum of which when taken 
into account may possibly be found to exceed the market- value 
of the estates on which it has been expended. 

This view of the case is put forth and supported by a distin- 
guished American writer,* who seems to have anticipated, in 
the assertion of this claim on behalf of the State, a serious check 
to the employment of private labour and capital in the subjuga- 
tion of the prairie and the forest by those whose title to such land 
is based on a patent from the Federal Government, coupled with 
industrial occupation. 

We in England are at the present day but the heirs or successors 
to others, who, whether they derived their original title in the 
wilderness and waste by patent, grant, conquest, diplomacy, or 
communal inheritance, generally got nothing, apart from wild 
animals and minerals, for the expenditure of toil and capital in 
the development of their acquisition, but the chance of remunera- 
tion. Any one who will look, for instance, into the history of 
the " making of the land " in the great level of the fens in the time 
of the Stuarts, will learn that the chance of remuneration was 
then anything but a good one for the adventurers and pioneers 
on those great and useful works. 

Some of us have been eye-witnesses of the nature and extent 
of the warfare of human industry against natural obstacles in 
the New World, of which Great Britain in recent years has fur- 
nished only occasional examples. Possibly ninety-nine out of 
every hundred of the present inhabitants of England can form 
no conception of the character and severity of ^this struggle, 
and it may not be out of place to reproduce a picture of it 

* Professor Sumner of Yale College. 


as drawn by De Tocqueville from personal observation. He 

says : 

The bells round the necks of the cattle announced our reproach to a 
" clearing " when we were yet a long way off, and we soon afterwards 
heard the stroke of the hatchet hewing down the trees of the forest. 
As we came nearer, traces of destruction marked the presence of civilised 
man ; the road was strewn with shattered boughs ; trunks of trees 
half consumed by fire, or cleft by the wedge, were still standing in the 
track we were following. 

Beyond a field, at present imperfectly traced out, we suddenly came 
upon the cabin of its owner, situated in the centre of a plot of ground 
more carefully cultivated than the rest, but where man was still waging 
unequal warfare with the forest ; there the trees were cut down, but 
their roots were not removed, and the trunks still encumbered the 
ground they had so recently shaded. 

The master of the dwelling belongs to that restless, calculating, and 
adventurous race of men who do with the utmost coolness things only 
to be accounted for by the ardour of the passions, and who endure the 
life of savages for a time in order to conquer and civilise the backwoods. 
By the side of the hearth sits a woman with a baby on her lap ; her 
delicate limbs appear shrunken, her features are drawn in, her children 
are the true children of the wilderness, full of turbulence and energy. 
She watches them from time to time with mingled melancholy and 
joy. To look at their strength and her languor, one might imagine 
that the life she has given them has exhausted her own, and still she 
regrets not what they have cost her. In the one chamber of which the 
house consists the whole family is gathered for the night. 

The dwelling itself is a little world an ark of civilisation amid an 
ocean of foliage ; a hundred steps beyond it the primeval forest spreads 
its shades, and solitude resumes its sway.* 

Our English, ancestors have undergone at home the same toil 
and privations in their conflicts with Nature. The wolf had to 
be extirpated before the flock could be safely established ; the 
forest had to be cleared before the open field could be set out ; 
the great river to be embanked before the flood could be restrained, 
and the fen made only summer land. This, however, was but 
a first approach towards cultivation. 

The communal occupation of this virgin soil soon came under 
the necessity of regulation and order, to become of any real 

* De Tocqueville's " History of Democracy in America," 


service to an advancing and growing population not content to 
remain savages. The commonable lands had to be set out in strips 
with owners' rights, not yet indeed complete, but sufficiently 
appropriated to allow of some private enterprise in the growth 
of grain. The manor-house, the church, and the homesteads 
appeared on the scene, shelter for cattle was provided in winter, 
and the breeds improved. With buildings and arable husbandry 
and winter shelter came the need for bridges, ferries, roads pass- 
able in summer unserviceable, indeed, in winter, but, such as 
they were, constructed and maintained solely by those who had 
subjugated and brought into cultivation the soil over which they 

People now living may have seen decaying under the walls 
of a parish church the enormous wooden plough, girt and stayed 
with iron, which, as spring approached, was annually furbished 
up and brought into the village street. For this the owners or 
their tenants, acting in concert, made up joint teams of six or 
eight powerful horses, and proceeded to the restoration of their 
highways, by ploughing them up, casting the furrows towards 
the centre, and then harrowing them down to a fairly level surface 
for the summer traffic. They have lived to see the same highways 
first and for years mended with weak and rotten sand and gravel, 
and finally hardened and rendered water-proof, with granite, 
transported fifty miles or more for that purpose. 

Progress, however, was stayed by the exercise of the remaining 
communal rights, and a further step was taken by the owners 
to allot among themselves in severalty that which hitherto they 
had enjoyed in common, and to free their cultivated lands from 
the customary right exercised by sheep-masters and the owners 
of commonable cattle and animals, as well as the otherwise in- 
curable evil of a prescriptive course of cropping which rendered 
the provision of sufficient winter food an impossibility. At an 
enormous expense this last great step towards efficient tillage 
and grazing was carried out with the sanction of Parliament, and 
the way was clear for the erection of suitable homesteads, no 
longer huddled in the villages, but placed in the newly set out 
freeholds, and for the complete removal of the superfluous water 
by open ditches and under-drains. The English landowner was 
not slow to make use of the opportunity now given for laying the 


soil dry, and for sheltering and subdividing his cattle by enclosures 
fenced off by hedges or stone walls, and the cost value of the made 
land of the empire was speedily raised by the enormous expendi- 
ture on these works. 

There are other subsidiary and local improvements that must 
not be overlooked, such as warping, claying, marling, pumping 
from low levels, all of which operations have necessitated an 
outlay of capital, and a periodical charge for renewal, without 
which the soil would be entirely unfitted for modern husbandry. 
There is, it may be broadly asserted, but a small portion of rural 
England the present value of which is not due wholly or in a very 
large part to the costly operations to which reference has been 
made, and which have been conducted wholly at the charge of 
the successive owners of the soil. 

In the twenty-fourth volume of the First Series of the Journal 
of the Koyal Agricultural Society Mr. Belcher has drawn a re- 
markably clear picture of what remains to be done after the 
forest trees of wild land have been removed. Speaking of Wych- 
wood Forest, then recently grubbed up, he says : 

The land, when given into the hands of the new tenants, presented 
anything but a smooth, inviting appearance. Wide ditches, and long 
irregular high banks that had formed the boundaries of the different 
coppices ; deep pits and hollows, where stones had been dug for the 
use of bygone generations ; small straggling briars that had escaped 
the notice of the wood-grubbers ; roots of trees and underwood left a 
few inches below the surface ; large patches of rough brown fern stems 
that had afforded cover to the fawns ; all these and many other 
impediments stood in the way of the " forest farmers," and made " speed 
the plough " an earnest desire with the ploughman, but seldom realised ; 
for it was with the greatest difficulty that four strong horses drawing 
a large iron plough could break up half an acre a day, and many and 
long were the blacksmiths' bills for repairs to the tackle where the 
plough was used in breaking up the soil. Some of the tenants tried 
digging at a cost of 3 per acre ; some used stocking hoes and grubbed 
the ground five inches deep, carefully picking out the large stones that 
were beneath the surface : this plan cost 50s. per acre.* 

These operations, however, laborious and costly as they proved 
* R.jL.S.E. Journal, vol. xxiv., 1863, p. 281, 


to be, left the land but poorly prepared and wholly unfurnished 
for farming operations, unless the surface had been there and 
then sown down in one prairie to grass, for which it would have 
even then required some such previous operation as breast- plough- 
ing, at the cost of about 23s. an acre. For the growth of grass 
and winter food, for local traffic, for the shelter of man and 
beast, the owner had further to provide roads fenced in with 
boundary- walls, or quick-fencing taking five years at the 
least of careful nursing and effectual protection to rear and 

Farmhouses, cottages, wash-pits, cattle-pens, waterings, plan- 
tations, and gardens had further to be provided. The highways 
would come to 700 per mile, the occupation roads to about half 
that sum. The two boundary-walls would come to 200 per 
mile, or, if the fencing was done with quick, to a little larger sum. 
At least that was the case in the reclamation of Wychwood Forest. 
There still remained the first thorough draining of the new fields 
to be executed, at a cost to the owner of from five to seven pounds 
an acre. 

There is no operation brought into this statement which it 
has not been incumbent on the owner to execute on the soils of 
England in general cultivation. The chalk downs stand in a 
category by themselves, to which these remarks would not 
apply. The sands and gravels would not require under- 
draining, but their texture would on the other hand require 
strengthening and cooling by the expensive process of marling 
or chalking. 

Wychwood Forest, as we have seen, furnishes an instance of 
the subjugation of wild land and its conversion to a condition 
fit for all the purposes of modern husbandry within the present 
generation. Processes which have been slowly worked out 
during centuries were here undertaken and completed in almost 
as many years. The English flora and fauna in all their natural 
fitness and beauty were violently and ruthlessly destroyed to 
make way for artificial grasses and cereals, the imported 
root-crops, and the less graceful forms of domesticated farm 
stock. The transformation, though costly, was complex and 

We will pass from, the centre of England to the north, to a tract 


of high land, the home of the grouse and wild-fowl at all seasons, 
and the outrun during summer for some hardy hill stock. The 
soil itself, not sour or sterile, invited the hand of a generous and 
wealthy improver ; the climate indeed suggested caution, but 
even that hope held out might be ameliorated, if the ever- present 
cold wet in the soil could be removed, and the driving blasts and 
storms be broken by stone fences and shelters. Though the 
growth of grain and crops in rotations was admittedly out of the 
question, the more moderate and simpler enterprise of improving 
the permanent pasture by the removal of the heather, by liming 
and draining, seemed to offer a fair prospect of return for the 

The moor in question contained 5,750 acres, for the most 
covered with heather, and before the improvement was excellent 
grouse ground. The portion improved was originally the best 
part of the moor, and comprises 656 acres. The reclamation 
was carried out about thirty years ago, and at that time the 
rent of the whole moor was 200 a year, or 8d. per acre all over ; 
while the value of the better portion selected for reclamation 
might be taken to have been Is. an acre. The undertaking, 
which extended over a period of fourteen years, consisted in 
draining, liming, stone- fencing, building cattle-sheds for shelter, 
and water-weiring, that is, protecting the banks of streams by 
stones or wattling : 

a. d. 

The draining cost .... 6,587 4 

Liming 8,255 16 4 

Fencing 616 7 5 

Water-weiring 224 2 2 

Cattle-sheds 517 4 1 

Sundries . 790 3 

Total . 15,990 14 3 

From the above it appears that these simple operations cost 
no less than 24 7s. Qd. per acre. There was nothing unusual 
or fanciful in their character; they consisted solely in re- 
moving the superabundant water from the soil by drainage, 
in keeping the torrents within bounds, in sweetening and 
improving the pasture by lime, in enclosing with walls built 


of stone found on the spot, and in erecting shelter for the 
animals brought on to graze. Thousands of other acres 
have been thus reclaimed from time to time. For some 
years the whole moor was kept in hand, and grazed with 
cattle and sheep, and in 1867 it was let as a farm at the 
annual rent of 800. In 1874, on a revaluation, this rent 
was increased to 824, the improved land being then valued 
at 6s. 8d. per acre. The result of the operations, therefore, 
financially, is an expenditure of 24 7s. 6d. an acre (more 
than half of which was for liming, the effect of which cannot 
be regarded as permanent), and an increased rental of 5s. Sd. 
an acre, or a little over one per cent, on the capital employed. 
There can be no grounds in this case for assuming that the 
owner has been benefited by any " natural increment of 
value." On the contrary, the case furnishes a very striking 
and useful proof of the need of caution and moderation on 
the part of those who might be inclined to fasten on owners 
a legal obligation to bring waste lands and grouse moors into 

To complete the history of this improvement, it must be 
added that whilst the land when covered with heather was 
a splendid piece of grouse moor which would now have com- 
manded a game rent of 2s. Qd. per acre, it has been rendered 
valueless for that purpose : so that deducting, as is proper, 
this sum from the improved rent of 5s. Sd., we arrive at 
a net financial gain of 3s. 2d. per acre, or a return of 
about 13s. per annum on an expenditure of 100. If either 
by the unflagging zeal of the owner or, as is sometimes 
suggested, under State compulsion, the improved condition 
of the land is to be preserved, the liming, the effects of 
which are gradually wearing out, will have to be renewed at 
a cost which, with present prices of produce, hardly promises 
to be remunerative. 

Another instance of reclamation of waste land in a northern 
county of England may be worth mentioning. The common 
comprised about 4,000 acres, one half of which was enclosed 
about 1881 under the authority of Parliament. The proprietor 
of an estate in the manor, who was favourable to this enclosure, 
received in respect of such estate an allotment of 113 acres of 


cold moorland, growing rushes and coarse grass. At a cost of 
400 this was fenced and open-drained, and the enclosure ex- 
penses discharged. The largest offer to rent this allotment has 
been 12. Probably at the present time it would not command 
10. And as the common right prior to the enclosure was worth 
5, the resulting net gain from this improvement or subjuga- 
tion of the waste has been 5 per annum, or 1 per cent, on 
the capital applied. 

It will be proper next to examine into the extent and cost 
of those secondary operations which a survey of the general 
features of the country informs us must have followed its re- 
covery from a state of nature, and to estimate the approximate 
cost per acre of such operations. For this purpose examination 
has been made, with the aid of the 6-inch Ordnance Map, into 
their nature and extent in a selected parish. The one is question 
is in the Midland counties, remote from any considerable town, 
has a population less than 150, and probably never has had 
one of more than 200. It was enclosed in the reign of Elizabeth, 
being at that time for the most part open unenclosed common- 
able fields of arable and lammas land, some brakes of thorns 
and gorse, with a few old enclosures, probably not above 50 
acres in extent, around the messuages, tofts, and church. 
The area was, and is, 1,648 acres. The surface soil is of a 
most varied character, some heavy clay, a small amount of 
gravel, more loam, and a considerable tract of red oolitic 
iron formation. It is extremely undulating and has been full 
of dangerous bogs and springs, the drainage of which has 
been difficult and costly, but not more so than has been the 
case in the surrounding parishes. To draw off the spring 
water many of these drains have been cut to the depth of 
15 and 20 feet. 

The snipe, the dotterel, and woodcock, which up to the 
beginning of the century were common, are now hardly 
ever seen. As late as 1808, private diaries show that 
the squire of the place spent many a night with his draw- 
nets and setters in taking these birds, as well as other winged 
and ground game, the remains of a practice that no doubt 
was common enough before the days of enclosure. The 
badger, the fox, the foumart and mole were all placed in 


the same category of destructive vermin, and the hand of 
man was raised without any discrimination against them. 
The visiting of neighbours at any distance was suspended 
from October to April, and the coal, which was fetched from 
a considerable distance, was laid down before Michaelmas. 
The ways and roads were then broken up by the weather 
and were abandoned as unfit, alike for light vehicles and heavy- 
draught waggons. 

The surveyor's map of the Elizabethan deed shows that the 
proprietors divided their new allotments into eighteen large 
enclosures, to which were added sixteen small crofts adjoining 
the thirty houses of the inhabitants, whose census came probably 
to about one hundred and fifty souls. Forty years ago there 
was no hard road to the adjoining village on the south, and 
even now the hard road to that on the north is in places not 
even commenced. 

The parish has ultimately been subdivided into 150 fields, 
now traversed by over three miles of substantial public carriage- 
ways, with the addition of about one mile of occupation roads, 
giving access from the former to the properties of several 
owners. The public ways were set out in the Elizabethan 
deed 60 feet wide ; they are now reduced to 30. At this 
width they appropriate 33 acres of land over which the 
public enjoys rights of free passage, insisting at the same 
time on the maintenance of a hard level weather-proof track 
of ample width, made, preserved, and protected solely 
at the cost of the proprietors of the land through which they 
pass. The cattle of the owners of the soil are prohibited from 
grazing its sides, and the very hedges and trees, which might 
and which have afforded them shelter, have to be reduced 
to statutable dimensions for the convenience and enjoyment 
of the casual wayfarer. These desirable results, attracting 
so little remark, regarded as they are as matters of course, 
and almost the production of Nature, have been effected 
only at a heavy charge on the real estate of the parish. 
Fifteen acres at the least are entirely lost in the metalled 
surface of the highways, and the account for the whole of the 
secondary works of reclamation will stand approximately as 
follows : 


3J miles of parish roads, at 700 per mile to make . 2,216 
The two boundary fences on either side, at 200 per 

mile 633 

The" one mile of occupation road and its fences . 550 
36 miles of quick fences to the 150 enclosures, at 

112 per mile 4,032 

200 gates and gateways to the enclosures, at 40s. . 400 

1,600 acres drained at 6 6a. per acre, say . . 10,000 

Total . . 7,8131 

But the record cannot be closed here. Roads without bridges, 
carriage-ways without footpaths and causeways, grazing grounds 
without waterings, lairs, or cattle-pens, would be regarded as 
incomplete. Even the prairie requires its corrals. Rights of 
way, allotments, orchards, buildings for the poor, and grave- 
yards must be taken into account before the average cost value 
of an acre in the typical parish can be estimated. 

Beyond this there remains yet one noteworthy adjunct, which 
from the earliest time to the present has marked and capped 
every advance in civilisation that has given character and value 
to country estates. 

The owners of the soil, sometimes with enthusiasm, sometimes 
without, but still always somehow, have regarded the erection 
and maintenance of a place of public worship as a work without 
which their rural economy would be incomplete. To bring the 
expenditure on this head into the account is no fanciful or 
extreme stretch of the imagination, but would on reflection seem 
to be a solid actuarial item in the schedule of operations, by 
which our ancestors enhanced the value of every rood of their 
possessions, and which must not be overlooked in discussion 
with those who trace so much of the rise of income to the 
natural increment of value. 

There will now be no difficulty in accounting for an addi- 
tional expenditure of 1,600 to 2,000 on the operations neces- 
sary in the selected parish to provide the equipment for the 
development of modern husbandry ; this will raise the cost of the 
secondary operations to about 20,000, a sum equal to 12 per 
acre. If we add 5 an acre more for the cost of such work as 
Mr. Belcher describes in Wychwood Forest, we get a sum of 17 



per acre, and still we have not a house or homestead erected, a 
tree planted, a hovel raised. These particulars will be dealt 
with, and their importance as factors in the value of land per- 
ceived, when we come to the consideration of the actual expen- 
diture about them on estates selected for example ; but a very 
careful and useful estimate of their cost has been furnished by 
Mr. E. P. Squarey in his article on " Farm Capital," to be found 
in Vol. xiv. of the 2nd series of the Journal of the Royal Agri- 
cultural Society (1878). 

Mr. Squarey says the landlord's capital is (1) The land. 
(2) The buildings, roads, cottages, fences, etc. (3) The ex- 
penditure in arterial or thorough draining, warping, chalking, 
marling, and other more or less permanent methods of increasing 
the productive capacity of the soil. It is with the second item 
we have now to do, and Mr. Squarey's estimates are based on 
the following illustrations : 

A. A dairy farm of 200 acres, 15 per cent, arable ; annual 
value, exclusive of tithe, 50s. per acre ; cost of buildings, includ- 
ing house and two cottages, 2,550, or 12 15s. per acre. 

B. Mixed arable and pasture farm, 500 acres tithe-free at 30s. 
per acre rent ; house, farm, and six cottages, 4,000, or 8 an acre. 

C. Mixed upland, arable and pasture farm of 1,000 acres, at 
20s. per acre ; farmhouse, buildings, and thirteen cottages, 6,350, 
or 6 7s. per acre. 

The average in these three illustrations of the cost of build- 
ings turns out therefore to be 9 per acre, which, added to the 
previous calculation of 17, brings up the amount of the owner's 
expenditure to the sum of 26 per acre. 

For some such outlay as this, or its equivalent, at the time 
when the several operations were carried out, the open wild 
waste, denuded of saleable timber, mere rough naked land in 
fact, has been converted into cleared and levelled enclosures, 
ready for the occupancy of the cultivating farmer and his staff. 

Having thus taken a view of the processes involved in the 
making of the land, the consequence of these operations and 
the further demand on the resources of those who have carried 
them out, in order that their efficiency should not be impaired, 
will have to be considered. This efficiency is maintained by 
renewals renewals of operations and improvements which it is 


too much the custom to regard as permanent, when no such 
thing as permanency has been achieved. The life of these im- 
provements is not perpetual, that of some is actually transient. 
If the primary operation, such as grubbing and levelling, be 
excepted, which once done may be said to be done for ever, 
there is not one that does not become from the date of its 
completion the source of anxiety as to its protection and 
preservation, and of consequent further expenditure of capital. 

The first execution of such works has all the charm of con- 
quest surrounding it it is greeted with the applause of admiring 
citizens, the successes are tabulated and advertised, the failures 
are never mentioned. While the field laughs with grain, it is 
more than possible that the owner groans at the cost of its 
artificial fertility, and finds too late that high fanning is not 
the remedy for lowering prices. Too often he must feel it 
would have been better to have left the down unbroken, the 
copse ungrubbed, the gorse and heather to bloom in peace, 
the sullen clay undrained, the boulders where they lay on the 
moor and the grand homestead in the architect's office. The 
mention of an inspector or commissioner sends the same sort of 
cold thrill through him as such references would among the 
criminal classes, and he curses the day when modern legislation 
enabled him through such agencies to burden his acres with 
debt, and to excite at the same time the cupidity of the ignorant 
and unscrupulous theorists who would appropriate what shadow 
of net income might remain to him, under a claim on behalf of the 
nation to the " natural increment of value." In such cases 
and there are thousands of them there is, instead of any 
natural increment of value, an artificial depletion of income. 

As far as our experience reaches, the efficiency of modern 
under-drains cannot be counted on beyond a term of fifty years : 
in very many cases renewal has been found necessary at the end of 
thirty, either from the decay of the material used, as straw, turf, 
or wood, the defective design of the drain tile, as was the case 
in the old horseshoe tile, or the small diameter of the pipe, the 
inroads of moles, the entrance of roots, or deposit of silt and 
mud. Sometimes a zeal for universal deep work in soapy clays 
has ended in a suffocation of the passage, and caused an early 
substitution of shallower channels ; sometimes the burial at the 


bottom of broken stones with pipes placed on their top, some- 
times the direction in which the drains were set out, frequently 
the distances allowed between them, have speedily terminated 
the useless life of the fashionable bantling, leaving a legacy of 
debt and a heavy charge inevitable for renewals. 

The expenditure on such enterprises must not be forgotten by 
those who would record the cost of the subjugation of the English 
soil. It may be contended that money thus thrown away should 
not be taken into account. Be it so ; but the experience derived 
from such mistakes, as an asset, has its value a very sterling one 
and something on its account must be credited in estimating 
the capital expenditure which goes to make up the value at 
the present day of ordinary farm lands. It is not the building 
of the vessels and the pay of the crews only that make up the 
cost of navigating our coasts : it is increased by a charge for 
beacons, buoys, and lights, warning the sailors of the hidden 
rocks and shoals on which so many have gone to destruction. 
The renewals of fences, where they have been neglected, is a 
constant source of expense, since (even where tenderly cared for) 
whitethorn and blackthorn and hazel are not immortal. The 
perpetual clearing out and deepening of outfalls, the renewals 
and repairs of fen and marsh banks and dykes, the maintenance 
of the machinery, without which it would be flooded, are con- 
tinuous and costly, coming on some of the inferior levels to an 
annual cost of from 4s. to 6s. an acre. 

Finally, it should be noted that it is upon land which in a state 
of nature was of an inferior value, either from its situation or 
poverty, that we meet with the marked instances of an apprecia- 
tion of value due, as we have seen, to the lavish expenditure of 
extraneous capital. Fen districts, sandy heaths, vitriolic gravels, 
sullen clays, stony wildernesses, furnish the standard examples 
of improved rentals and reduced incomes. Arthur Young 
described one of his improved occupations in Middlesex as the 
" maw of a devouring wolf," the very reverse of the character 
an inexperienced observer would have bestowed on it. 

One of the most successful and wealthiest men of business in 
the Midland counties, a very considerable landowner, whose 
family for a century back have been signally connected with the 
advancement of agriculture, told the writer in the forties that 

" he could not afford to buy land at less than 90 to 100 per 
acre " meaning, it may be presumed, that an income might 
be calculated on with certainty when the elements of fertility are 
in natural abundance and convertible into human food (as in the 
best grazing lands) without expenditure upon houses, cottages, 
and buildings ; while in the other case, though the saleable 
products might be as considerable or even more so, the income 
they yielded was too seriously diminished by the cost of the arti- 
ficial means necessary for their acquirement. This reasoning 
seems to be sound, for it is notorious that the rents of these fine 
soils covered with the best natural pastures have hardly yielded 
to the pressure of bad times, while rents enhanced by improve- 
ments have gone to pieces, and in many cases down to zero. 

Such examples as these are, however, of very limited amount, 
though possibly there is not a county in England that is entirely 
devoid of them. They will be found for the most part in the 
Midlands, and on the spots where the Kimmeridge clay and 
green sand come to the surface, as well as in river valleys and flats 
which for years have had the fertilising washings of the surround- 
ing slopes brought down upon them by the action of frost and 
water. But even in the finest grazing pastures in Leicestershire 
and Northamptonshire, whatever may have been the practice 
fifty years ago, it would be wrong to conclude that at the present 
day the extraordinary richness of their grasses is due entirely to 

Some years ago Sir John B. Lawes commenced a scientific 
inquiry into the causes of the fertility and the feeding properties 
of the best land near Market Harborough, and for this purpose 
he desired to select for examination portions of fields on which 
no artificial food had been consumed. After long search none 
could be found absolutely free from this disqualification. Upon 
the greater portion of this magnificent district it turned out 
that linseed or cotton cake was in common use and in considerable 
quantities, dissipating the general idea that the " rother's side 
is larded " solely by natural grasses. A little help no doubt 
goes a long way on such pastures, but the grazier has proved that 
it is better to give it possibly with the view of early maturity 
than to rely exclusively on what the landlords' freehold furnishes 
in return for the rent. 


Passing then from the cream of the English soil, we come to 
the considerations of some instances selected for the purpose of 
showing the extraordinary and unsuspected outlay which has 
been continuously going on in order to produce or to maintain 
the rent-roll of purely rural estates. 

It has been found no very easy matter to arrive at the par- 
ticulars, or even the sum-total of this outlay, so as to get at a 
statement of averages. A vast amount of the improvements of 
the land has been due to sentiment and not to economical cal- 
culations. Arthur Young suggests the morning stroll of the 
owner, and his casual and unpremeditated conception on the 
spot of some operation which would improve the natural features 
of his estate, and perhaps employ his people, as the origin of 
considerable outlay. Of such probably no very accurate accounts 
are now to be found. Much of it perhaps might be termed 
extravagant, and in respect of direct results, unproductive ; 
but none can doubt that the finished charm and wealth of 
English scenery are traceable to such efforts, and that much 
of the value (the residential value certainly) of rural property 
has resulted from them. It is doing scant justice to our 
ancestors to discredit or forget their practical regard for 
ornament and progress as they understood it, and ungraciously 
ascribe its economic effects entirely to the " natural increment 
of value." 

Fortunately, however, in some instances estate accounts have 
been kept and preserved in a manner sufficient to establish 
without doubt the contention that on a comparison of expenditure 
with the present capital value, much less than is thought will be 
found left for the prairie value of the land. 

The county of Huntingdon is one essentially free from urban 
activity, and the local wealth which it creates. A considerable 
portion of it still shows traces of the forest with which it was 
once clothed. A large part of its north-eastern margin was 
very recently a fen sodden with moisture, or bright with water, 
skirted with reed and sedge. 

The residents are the successors of a generation who were 
content to sow the skirts of their highlands where they dipped 
into the fens with no nobler grain than oats, to see them too 
frequently ripening so late that the practice was to leave them 


standing till the water rose among them a foot or more in depth, 
waiting with patience till winter set in, and access to the crop 
was afforded on the ice. Then at last, equipped with poles and 
sleighs, the villagers entered on the untimely harvest, and, break- 
ing off so much of the crop as stood above the ice, they gathered 
it on the sleighs and removed it to the edge of the highland for 

The woods are now fewer and far between ; the meres are 
bright, not with water, but with spring green and (in the absence 
of blight) with autumn gold. Spacious and substantial farm- 
houses and buildings have replaced the decoy and the charcoal- 
burners' camp, while the wattle and daub hut, with its thatched 
roof snug and picturesque, has disappeared for a modern 
brick substitute, answering indeed to the idea of decency and 
salubrity, but at the cost of rustic beauty and some domestic 

Have these striking changes brought with them a corresponding 
financial return for the sacrifices which have been made for their 
achievement ? Some answer may be found on an examination 
of a case in point. 


The Connington estate, the property of J. M. Heathcote, Esq., 
in Huntingdonshire, is situated on the borders of the higher 
lands of the Oxford clay formation, where it descends and merges 
into the alluvium of the fen lands of Whittlesea and Holme. 
Part, therefore, is heavy clay, the poorer portion of which is or 
was woodland and store-grass land. The other part is light 
fen land, " blowing " in the dry March winds, and of a loose 
texture. Situated between the two is a considerable amount 
of mixed soil of good quality, growing good timber, and carrying 
heavy sheep, and excellent pasture for milk and store cattle. 
For eighty-seven years the proprietors, a father and son, have 
resided on the estate, bestowing on it all the personal care and 
outlay which a love of country life and a sense of duty would 
prompt. Without yielding to " fads " and whims, all that modern 
science and practice in agriculture sanctioned has been respected 
and made use of here. Nothing seems to have been carried out 


on the one hand in a mean and niggardly fashion, while on the 
other there is no evidence of extravagance or indifference to 

The gross rental, inclusive of that from small holdings and 
cottages, has been as follows since the beginning of the century : 

In the year 1800 it was 3,603 
1810 6,908 
1820 7,840 
1830 6,706 
1840 6,449 

In the year 1850 it was 7,004 
1860 ,, 9,592 
1870 10,376 
1880 7,185 
1886 7,130 

But it must be remarked that the rental of 1886 is not all actually 
received from a tenantry, but is the sum given on the basis of a 
valuation ; a large portion of the estate being in the hands of 
and cultivated by the owner. 

The expenditure on the enclosure of one parish, the purchase 
of land, drainage, building, and repairs, or renewals, comes to 
no less than 143,798 as below. 

Farm premises, cost and repairs . . .41,311 
Cottage repairs between 1860 and 1885 . 4,564 
Public drainage of fen, say .... 3,000 * 
Internal drainage of fen .... 11,213 

Highland drainage 31,920 

Road made 2,190 

Purchase of land 44,089 

Enclosure of one parish .... 5,511 

Total . 143,798 

The expenditure on residence, cottages, restoration of churches, 
special fen taxes, materials, and agency, brings up the capital 
sum expended to 218,446. Now, supposing this sum had, as 
it accumulated, been hoarded instead of expended on this estate, 
and was to be now brought to light and placed out at interest 
of 4 per cent., an income of no less than 8,738 a year would be 
the clear result, or 1,400 a year more than the present gross 
income of the whole improved estate in 1886, after adding to the 
rental of 7,130, 200 for the mansion, making in all 7,330. 

* Raised by an annual tax, averaging 116 per annum, and extending 
over eighteen years. 


Supposing, which is believed to be the case, the outlay in 
question has been spread over the eighty-six years of this century, 
the estate may be debited with an annual charge in respect of 
one half of 218,446 for eighty-six years, equal at 4 per cent, 
to 4,369 a year. Had this outlay never been made by the 
owner, it is not to be believed that the estate would have been 
unproductive. On the contrary, with security of tenure at a 
low rent, tenants would have been found to execute some improve- 
ments and renewals or repairs at their own cost. With a system 
of building leases even cottages might have been thus erected, 
as it is understood has been the case on one or more large estates. 
The owner might possibly have felt called upon to renew or re- 
build the farm-houses, to execute the arterial drainage of the 
fen land, and to take upon himself the enclosure of the open 
field parish, the repair of the churches, and the finding of some 
material. The estate is included in five parishes, and consists 
of 141 acres wood, 4,557 acres arable, 1,589 acres pasture, 800 
acres fen land under plough. The highland cost 6 an acre to 
under-drain, the tiles being made on the estate. The woodland 
produces no net return. 


The estate of the Earl of Leicester, E.G., at Holkham in Norfolk, 
furnishes another striking illustration in support of the contention 
that value is due to outlay, and that some of the most splendid 
exhibitions of fertility and agricultural wealth are traceable, 
not to natural circumstances, but rather to the continuous system- 
atic applications of skill and of extraneous capital on the soil. 

In the following statement the Park and Domain, with the 
mansion and buildings pertaining to it, are excluded ; as well as 
the Marsh farm of 459 acres. 

The amount expended by the late Earl of Leicester 

on buildings and repairs from 1776 to 1842 was 536,992 

By the present Earl of Leicester for buildings and 
repairs, gates and fences, and under-draining, 
from 1842 to April 1, 1883, was . 344,994 \ 490 218 
For purchase of land . . . 145,224 / 

Total 1,027,210 


The net income of the Estate in 1841 was . . . 30,499 
The average of ten years to 1841 was . ... . 25,208 

The net income in 1860 was 26,746 

The net income in 1882 was 25,402 

The net income in 1885 was . . . . . 27,523 , 

It is interesting to examine, by the way, the payments which 
in the year 1882 came off the year's income of 52,285, amounting 
as they do to over one-half of this gross income. They were as 
follow : 

a. d. a. d. 

Land tax 1,410 2 7 

Property tax . . . . 1,183 10 
Out rents . . . . 4,879 10 5 
Parochial rates . . . 279 4 1 
Tithe rent charge . . . 6,481 3 
Voluntary payments . . 680 17 7 

14,913 18 6 

Buildings and repairs . . 8,836 4 6 
Gates and fences . . . 401 1 5^ 
Under-draining . . . 1,192 14 7 
Law charges .... 146 7 3 
Management .... 1,303 17 10 
Sundry disbursements . . 81 2 9 

11,961 8 5 

? Total . . say, 26,875 

Net profit . say, 25,410 

The average cost from the year 1852 to the year 1883 has been 

e. d. 

For buildings and repairs . . . 8,083 6 
Gates and fences ..... 332 11 8 f ' ' 
Under-draining 760 4 5 

Total . . 9,176 2 1 

The amount annually expended in buildings and repairs alone 
from Michaelmas 1815 to April 1868, a period of fifty-two years, 
was 8,371 18s. 3d. 

Here we have an instance of an expenditure during 107 years 
of over one million sterling on one estate, in the purchase of land 


and in work and payments necessary to insure this rental of 
52,285. Applying the same rule as in the Connington case, 
and taking the' 4 interest of half this amount at 4 per cent, during 
the whole period, the proprietor from this source alone would 
have derived an annual income of 20,000, only 5,410 less than 
the net income of the improved and enlarged estate at the present 
time ; or if the owners had only hoarded the sums annually 
spent on the maintenance of their estate during the period under 
consideration, and had in the year 1883 brought the accumulation 
into beneficial use by investing it at the rate of 3| per cent., the 
possessor would be in the enjoyment of an income of 36,000 a 
year. The estate, less the amount purchased, would also be his, 
not indeed in the high condition which now distinguishes it, but 
still we may conjecture productive of some, though a considerably 
less, rental. 

Having now given some instances of the expenditure of a 
large sum per acre in the reclamation and improvement of land 
in the eastern and northern counties of England, another may 
be added of a more ordinary character in the south-west, where 
the expenditure in relation to the rental has not been so consider- 
able, and where the execution of the improvements has not 
attracted such general attention from its novelty or its extent. 
It gives, therefore, perhaps in some respects a truer sketch of the 
operations which have for years been quietly carried on by 
English landowners in the ordinary management of their estates. 


The property in question belongs to Earl Bathurst, who has 
kindly furnished the following particulars concerning it. The 
purely agricultural portion, occupied by tenant farmers, consists 
now of about 6,100 acres. In 1825 its extent was 4,920 acres ; 
nearly 1,200 acres have been subsequently added by purchase 
from time to time at a cost of over 40,000. 

A home farm of 1,209 acres, on which about 3,000 has been 
expended on new buildings and cottages, besides further sums 
on annual repairs, is not included in this statement. All contri- 
butions and subscriptions to the restoration of churches and 


vicarages, the maintenance of schools, the erection of a village 
coffee-tavern and similar matters, as well as the expenditure of 
2,300 on a cattle-market upon the estate, producing an annual 
income of about 80 from tolls, are omitted here from considera- 
tion. A sum of 1,205 is, however, included in the outlay of 
1877, which was spent in the construction of water-works for 
the supply of one village and some high-lying land on two farms. 
With regard to the rental, this from 1851 to 1879 was based 
on the price of wheat, when in the latter year the tenants ex- 
pressed a desire to revert to fixed payments. The rent received 
amounted, on 4,920 acres, in the year 1825, to 5,521 ; in 1830, 
to 5,519 ; in 1840, to 5,904 ; in 1850, to 6,143 on 5,290 
acres ; in 1860, to 7,678, the acreage being then 5,685 acres ; 
in 1870, to 7,780 ; in 1880, on 6,100 acres, to 6,560, and in 
1885 to 6,177 on the same acreage. The consideration of these 
figures is instructive, showing as they do that in 1825 the gross 
rent was 22s. 5'3d. per acre as against 20s. 3'3d. in 1885, not- 
withstanding the outlay of 12 per acre since that date. The 
gross sum expended on the property between 1825 and 1885 
inclusive came to 67,438 on new farm-houses, buildings, cottages, 
general repairs, and draining, though only 1,867 is accounted 
for under this last head. As the cost of the purchased land, 
including law and other expenses, comes to about 42,500 
there appears thus to have been a grand total of 110,000 spent 
on a property which produced in 1885 a net rent of only 4,600. 
The interest on 110,000 at 4 per cent, is 4,400, showing 
that within the last sixty years Earl Bathurst and his predeces- 
sors have practically bought and paid for their own agricultural 
property in hard cash. In other words, if they had not laid 
out a shilling in repairs on these agricultural holdings during 
the last sixty years, and had not purchased additional agricul- 
tural property for the improvement of their estate, but had 
invested the money so laid out at 4 per cent., the present owner 
would have been able to let the original agricultural estate of 
4,920 acres at one shilling an acre last year, and would be now 
actually in receipt of a larger return than he is possessed of under 
present circumstances. 

It will be possibly urged that the cases quoted are excep- 
tional, and not fair illustrations of the argument of the writer. 


Those who advance this objection would do well to bear in mind 
the length of time which has been occupied in bringing this 
fair realm into the condition in which we now find it ; how im- 
possible have been the operations without legislation ; how slow 
and costly legislative processes are ; how system after system has 
been abandoned and resumed under the influences of wars, treaties 
and commercial changes ; how sometimes the ignorant obstinacy 
of the wealthy or the popular prejudices of the masses have 
impeded or suspended remunerative operations ; how sometimes 
violence has been used to put an end to the efforts of the im- 
provers ; and how the laws of real property, with their costly 
complications and the heavy demands of the exchequer, have 
closed the markets to those who might desire to realise on their 

Let them bear in mind that the owner and cultivator of the 
soil has a fickle partner, from whom he can never divorce himself, 
in the person of Nature. Her whims and ways are beyond 
calculation. Mistress of such mighty agents as droughts, floods, 
frost, and heat, she too often makes a disastrous end of the best 
devised schemes for improvement. You can impose no restraint 
on her. You cannot command the temperature of a county 
as you would that of a cucumber-frame or a factory ; you can- 
not carry the sun in one hand and a watering-pot in the other. 
The most a prudent improver can do is to humbly provide for 
contingencies, to remember that at present there are no exact 
rules of science under which he can conquer this dour earth of 
ours ; and costly though it be, he must be content to do what, 
with no assurance of great reward, his ancestors have done 
before him adopt those measures which many failures and 
much painful experience have shown to be of most service in 
the particular spot on which he applies his energies and resources. 

Side by side with social progress the ameliorating changes 
have been advanced, not by the silent operations and develop- 
ment of Nature or by the natural increment of value, but by the 
dogged effort which the landowner as a rule has ever put forth 
in the making of the land, and at any cost fitting it for the practice 
of improved husbandry suited to the progress of civilisation 
and the modern wants of the people. 




A more recent illustration is to be found in the recovery of 1,350 
acres of land and swamp in a state of nature about 40 years 
ago, the inclosure award being dated December 19, 1861. The 
land in question was intercommonable of seven parishes, and 
its corporate existence would be found indicated in the map 
of Cambridgeshire under the extremely puzzling and unromantic 
title of Grunty Fen. It was a hollow surrounded on all sides 
by the low hills or " highgrounds," as they are called, of the 
seven interested parishes ; it dipped to its lowest level towards 
the north, where was a tract of poor soil and pools for the most 
part swampy all the year round. Here was the natural gullet, 
formed by a dip in the high ground, through which the overflow 
of the stagnant water would discharge itself, but still leaving 
behind a depth sufficient to cover a very large portion of the 
fen beyond the extent of the peat earth. Almost [in the centre 
of the fen on its longer axis from east to west the surface rose 
a few feet, sufficiently high in places to escape flooding, but in 
winter time only to be reached by boat. Not a tree, not a shrub 
even of the meanest kind, broke the dreary monotony of its sur- 
face. Even the reeds were starved and not fine of their kind ; 
only rushes and flags flourished at their best. Still at some 
early period it seems to have had attractions for our prehistoric 

On the surface, occasionally, a clean-cut, sharp, undamaged 
celt of the Neolithic period is picked up and forty years ago 
a magnificent gold torque peeped through the turf. A farmer 
crossing the common at night, the moon shining, was attracted 
by something glittering in his way. On working it out with his 
knife it proved to be a gold torque in perfect condition, the metal 
of which was worth fifty pounds. Later on, the spot seems 
to have found favour in the sight of the Roman conquerors 
of the country, for on the elevated ridge, out of the reach of 
the flood water, they established a very considerable pottery, 
extending at intervals over a length of nearly a mile. Here the 
cultivator has brought to light the sites of several kilns, re- 
mains of the foreign red ware in use for patterns, or it may be 
domestic service, with several new names of potters not heretofore 


recorded, hand mills either for grinding corn or paste for the 
finer description of ware, polishing stones and other materials of 
the craft. After their departure the tract must have been 
abandoned to a state of nature wholly unproductive and uncared 
for. Much of the surrounding land is of a good quality, some 
of it unusually good. On the summit of the low hills to the 
south, traces of early British sepulture are so marked as to lead 
to the conviction that some of the earliest settlements were 
formed there, attracted by fine springs of water and the rich 
fertile soil. Then followed the division of the surrounding belt 
into parishes with their manors and clusters of houses, seven 
parishes in all, immediately contiguous to the fen which then 
in time became intercommonable, that is, used by the commoners 
of the seven parishes, and then only for the grazing of their live 
stock and for a supply of fuel, peat out of northern lowest por- 
tions and " turves " (slow of combustion) off the drier pasture 

The fowling and fishing were shared, no doubt, between 
the poacher and the proprietors of the right ; the latter, how- 
ever, down to the latest times, destroying the nets of the former 
and harrying the interloping gunners in their pursuit of wild- 
fowl. Any attempt to exercise so-called public rights such 
as grazing cattle from a distance, taking fuel to " foreign " 
homesteads, burning ashes to put on land out of the interested 
parishes, or squatting, or even camping as gipsies do, on this 
wild but not " no man's " land tract was promptly resented 
and resisted. In this state of nature, then, the whole fen or 
common remained until the middle of the fifteenth century, 
when the attention of the country was directed to the removal 
of the flood water drowning thousands of acres and rendering 
them uninhabitable and profitless. The main works were 
undertaken and carried out by the Earl of Bedford and his 
associates. As a reward for their costs and exertions, portions 
of the districts benefited (the Great Bedford Level) were allotted 
to " the adventurers," and as among other larger and vastly 
more important works was a drain or " cut " of some miles 
length from Grunty Fen to the River Ouse near Littleport, a rect- 
angular allotment of 426 acres of the highest land in the centre 
of the 1,776 acres of the fen was enclosed and became freehold 


land, but subject to a tax for the purpose of maintaining the works 
by which the great level of the fens had been rendered compara- 
tively dry. A portion, however, of this 426 acres lay so low 
that the water had to be lifted out of it by a scoop wheel driven 
by a windmill. 

Nothing more was done by way of relieving the fen from 
submersion until about the year 1838, when, in order to prevent 
the body of water poured into the fen from the slopes of the 
surrounding seven parishes from passing down the Bedford 
Level drain into Littleport parish, a catchwater drain or dyke 
was cut all round the fen at the foot of the slopes or rise, but 
at such a height as to allow of its discharging itself by gravitation 
into the river several miles above Ely and Littleport. This work, 
costing 2,500, of course indirectly benefited the fen, which 
thenceforward received no more water than what fell in rain 
on its own area. It was now a common, bright with water in 
winter in the pools, as they were called, in the north, but only 
dotted with watersplashes elsewhere. There were fewer reeds, 
flags, and rushes, but more thistles and ragweed. It was a 
paradise for goldfinches in the summer and fairly attractive for 
snipe in the winter. Great changes, however, had meanwhile 
been going on in the land that surrounded this fen. The seven 
parishes claiming rights on it had one after another, since the 
commencement of the century, been enclosed. Fine fields of 
grain and enclosures belted it in, and the contrast between the 
" made " land with itslhedges, roads, farm premises, and labourers 
for ever busied on it, ploughing, sowing, mowing, reaping, and 
the dull sulky waste below with its stunted horses and uneasy 
cattle for ever shifting about in hungiy search for a mouthful, was 
most striking. It had not the varied beauty of a wild Hertford- 
shire or Sussex common. No encroaching crops on the edge of 
it (this catchwater drain barred that), with the elder hedge round 
the cribbed garden, the white linen drying on it, the poultry at 
large, the children at play, the donkey flitted hard by ; beyond, 
the patches of gorse and ling and the scattered ponds or pits where 
ducks and geese thrive and busy themselves in the most perfect 

It was obvious that this " unmade " land could not remain in 
its state of nature, or rather of mauled nature, for this Bedford 


Level drain and the catchwater drain between them had made the 
life of the pike precarious, and deprived the wild duck of a safe 
nesting-place and resort, but had left enough water to unfail- 
ingly rot the scabby sheep, and establish ague in the shepherd's 
home. There was to be another change, the great one ; the one 
thousand three hundred and fifty acres were to undergo the 
expensive process of manufacture and be " made " land as 
the word is understood in old-inhabited and cultivated countries. 
In order to effect this change it was necessary that all having 
a legal interest in the fen or common should be consulted, and 
that the majority should agree to the course to be adopted. The 
persons interested besides the owners of the 425 acres of ad- 
venturers' land were the commoners and the landowners of 
the seven parishes, and under action taken by outsiders the poor 
of these parishes, as well as the lords of manors, had also to have 
their claims, which did not come to much, taken into account. 
A short record of the proceedings has come down in writing 
from a landowner who, acting for himself and others, promoted 
the enclosure. It runs as follows : 

In the autumn of the year 1857 I began to see what I could do towards 
the enclosure of Grunty Fen. It consisted (besides the four farms in 
the centre of it, comprising 425 acres allotted to the adventurers of the 
Bedford Level Corporation) of about 1,400 acres. Attempts .and sug- 
gestions for its enclosure had been made during the past century, among 
others by Bentham the historian of Ely Cathedral, but they had always 
failed, and the enclosure had come to be looked upon as an impossibility. 
The fen was covered in places with anthills, and in summer with thistles 
which enticed large flocks of goldfinches. The portion under Witchford 
was swampy and was the abode of snipe, and there was rarely a day 
in the year on which some gunner was not in pursuit of them. The 
last day I ever shot on the unenclosed fen I killed thirteen couple. 
This portion also was dug up for " sods." No one seemed to know who 
had any legal rights on the fen ; every one did what was right in his own 
mind on it. It was grazed to any amount, and people had in late years 
begun to dig it up and carry away the soil on to the adjoining lands. 
It had become a regular nuisance, and as it lay immediately under the 
new manor house which was built in 1847-48 I was determined the 
nuisance should cease. During the year 1857, therefore, I ferreted 
about in the records of the Court of Exchequer and in the Petty Bag 
Office, and ascertained what was the history of the other fens before 
they were enclosed. I ascertained what entries there were in the 



Court Rolls of the different manors adjoining the fen in regard to it, 
and having mastered all the facts that I could gather I arrived at the 
conclusion that the fen in former times, centuries ago, was precisely 
in the same position as the other fens in the Isle of Ely, and was part 
of the wastes of the adjoining manors, and was in fact an inter-common. 
Prospects were held out of a pro rota allotment to all the highlands 
in the parishes abutting on the fen with small common-right allotments 
to the houses. This secured the requisite number of assents (besides 
those of the lords of the manors), and an Act was obtained for the 
enclosure. In time a valuer was appointed to adjust the interests of 
those having a legal claim to participate in the division of the fen, to 
plan and lay out the lots, to make the public roads and watercourses, 
and to hand over the recovered acres to separate ownership and culti- 

Six hundred and twenty chains, or seven miles and three 
quarters of public roads, 30 feet wide, metalled 12 feet wide with 
3 inches of gravel on 7 inches of burnt ballast, were made. These 
cost, with the drains or dykes alongside them, and some other 
independent watercourses and outfall works, 6,286 lls. 2d. ; 
the bridges and tunnels connected with, these 424 3s. 8d. The 
valuer's remuneration at 16s. an acre on 1,350 acres came to 
1,080. In addition to these the fencing and levelling the 
recreation allotments cost 61 14s. 2d, It will thus appear 
that it cost the landowners many of them very small people 
8,452 9s. as well as a tax of 100 a year for the passage of the 
water to the Eiver Cam, equal at 3 per cent, to a capital sum of 
3,300, or 11,452 in all, to bring the fen out of its wild state 
up to its first stages of recovery. 

If 50 acres be deducted for public roads and watercourses 
from the 1,350 acres of the fen, the remaining 1,300 acres had 
to bear this first cost, equal to a charge of 8 16s. per acre. 
Before, however, the allottees could bring their new possession 
into cultivation, the division fences had to be formed and gates 
put down. As planting, fencing, and rearing the quick-set hedges 
was done at the cost of about Is. a yard, and there still remained 
the levelling of the surface, which was covered with holes and 
hillocks, the estimated total cost of these subsidiary operations 
would hardly come to less than 24s. an acre, bringing the cost 
up to 10 an acre before a ploughshare could be driven through 
the turf or a beast be turned out to graze. In order to render 


a very large portion of the land fit for cultivation, under-draining 
remained to be done, costing in 1862 about 3 an acre, but at 
the present time nearly double that sum. 

Some of the reclaimed land is certainly of a very fine quality, 
but a portion would not repay the cost of cultivation, and is still 
almost in a wild state, though encumbered with this heavy outlay. 

The seven lords of the manors had allotted among them 
23a. Or. 7p., and there was set for the poor of the seven parishes 
24 acres in all of recreation ground, and no less than 237 acres of 
allotments subject to rent charges. 

The crowning evidence of modern civilisation is seen in a 
railway bisecting the fen, with two stations on it, bringing 
London within a two and a quarter hours' run, and St. Ives 
market within a run of thirty-five minutes, of these stations. 

It is to be hoped that the short history of the process and cost 
of " making " the land, entirely apart from the cultivation of 
it, may, with the other instances already given, help to demon- 
strate the fact that the farm land of England, before the culti- 
vator or husbandman could turn a furrow or stock an acre, had 
first to undergo the process of manufacture at a large outlay of 
enterprise, money, and labour. 

This the owner exclusively incurred and provided at his own 
cost and charges, and acting on lines distinctly special and 
antecedent to the cultivator's appearance on the scene. The 
latter then brought fresh capital and different methods into play, 
but not before the landowner had manufactured the artificial 
area to fit it for his productive operations. 

Hazelbeech, Northampton. 



The following letter summarises very clearly the nature of the reforms 
which Mr. Pell advocated in Poor Law administration : 

[of June 1907] 


The little union of Brixworth having in the past attained con- 
siderable fame as one in which outdoor relief had been gradually 
diminished almost to vanishing point, I think it may be of interest 
to your readers to see the steady growth of pauperism resulting 
from a change of system. It is particularly important to note 
that the number of outdoor paupers has had no effect in reducing 
the number indoors. 

The policy of strict administration of the Poor Law, after being 
in force for many years in the Brixworth union, was reversed 
about twelve years ago. The last year of the old system and the 
last year of the present one have been chosen for comparison. 

The advantages claimed for the outdoor relief policy are : 

1. That it is more economical. 

Cost in the years ending Lady Day : 

In maintenance Oat Belief Total 

1895 .. .. 798 .. .. 140 .. .. 938 
1907 .. .. 1,127 .. ..1,160 .. ..2,287 

showing an increase of 1,349, or 150 per cent. Cost per head of popula- 
tion in the same years was : 1895, Is. Q^d. ; 1907, 3s. lOd. 

2. That it diminishes the pressure on the workhouse. 
There were in the workhouse on: 



Indoor Paupers 

January 1, 1895 79 

January 1, 1907 101 

3. That it is more humane to the aged poor, who are saved from the 
painful necessity of ending their lives in the workhouse. 

In the years ending Lady Day : 

Deaths in the work- In the work-house Tote 

house over 65 on Lady Day 

1895 10* 38 48 

1907 6 40 46 

4. That if carefully administered it does not greatly increase the 

Including all ages, there were on January 1 : 

Indoor paupers Outdoor Total 

1895 .. A -.79 18 97 

1907 101 176 277 

showing an increase of 180, or nearly 200 per cent. 

Proportion of Paupers 
Population Paupers to Population 

1895 . . . . 12,186 . . . . 97 .. . . 1 in 126 
1907 . . . . 11,829 . . . . 277 . . . . 1 in 43 

Yours faithfully, 


The only additional and incontrovertible statement of fact which 
the case requires is contained in the following comparative table, 
which shows the position of pauperism in the Brixworth union 
before, and after twenty-two years, during which the principles 
advocated by Mr. Pell were more or less closely followed. 

Number of Paupers Cost of Relief 

Indoor Outdoor Indoor Outdoor 

1872 .. 64 ... 1062 .. 505 .. 5,899 
1894 .. 80 .. 20 .. 888 .. 151 

* One of these was under order of removal, not being chargeable to 
the Union, but was too ill for the order to be carried out. The differ- 
ence in the totals is therefore only 1. 


Mrs. Calverley came to live in Brixworth in 1879, and shared 
very strongly the objections which were felt to Mr. Pell's strict 
system of administration. Experience has changed her view, as 
the above letter testifies. Mrs. Calverley has been a guardian since 

The Brixworth board, in reply to the publication of these 
figures, has passed a resolution " That this board is convinced of 
the advantage of the out-relief policy, as being both more economi- 
cal and more humane." This, though it is conclusive evidence 
as to the opinion of the board, does not alter the facts. 

A similar policy adopted in St. George-in-the-East, the 
London parish in which Mr. Pell was interested, produced a 
very similar reduction. Here there has as yet been no return 
to the old lax system, but the continuity of policy is recognised 
as being very precarious and due entirely to the personal 
influence of one man. 


Aberdare, Lord, 232 

Abergavenny, Lord, 302 

Adeane, Mr., 94 

Agricultural Holdings Bill, 282 

Agricultural Labourers' Union, 
meeting, 295 

Agriculture, discoveries and de- 
velopments, 82 ; methods, 87 ; 
progress, 168 ; supposed in- 
fluence of electricity, 169 ; im- 
postors, 169-72 ; establishment 
of the Central Chamber, 202; 
Royal Commission on, 303 

Albans, St., 27 ; Abbey, 14, 64 

Alderson, Judge, 18 

Alison, the historian, 165 

Allen, Dr., Bishop of Ely, 95 

Allport, Mr., 305 

Alma, 180 

Althorp Park, 293 ; Rifle Volun- 
teer review at, 185 

Ampthill tunnel, 261 

Anderson, a fugitive slave, case of, 

Arnold, Dr., 9, 21 
- Mrs., 274 

Ashburton, 84 

Ashford, railway works at, 220 

Audrey's Causeway, St., 101 

Avon river, 43, 275 

Ayrton, Mr., 256 

Backhouse, Mr., 295 

Badgers, 135 ; their character- 
istics, 136, 137 

Bagehot, Mr., 216 

Bagshot, 55 

Baines, Mr., his Bill on the Settle- 
ment of the Poor, 180 

Balaclava, 180 

Balfour, Mr., A. J., xxiv, 250 

Ballot Bill, 253, 255 

Banks, Sir Joseph, 202 

Barclay, Mr., 299 

Barden Tower, 259 

Barnet, 27 

Barnsall, 259 

Barnstaple, 177 

Barstow, Mr., his style of playing 

football, 71 
Bates, Edward, 284 
Bathurst, Earl, his estate, 347 

Sir James, 148 
Batty- Wife's-Hole, 260 
Beaconsfield, Lord, xxv, 293 ; at 

the meeting at Bridgewater 
House, 308 

Bedford, 64 ; the Old River, 65, 
98 ; the New, 65, 98 

Earl of, 349 
Beecher, Captain, 37 

Belcher, Mr., on the cost of 
clearing land, 331 

Bellbusk, 260 

Bendigo, 74 

Benet's Church, St., Stepney, 
consecration of, 262 

Bentinck, Lord George, 80 

Beristead Manor House, 66, 111 ; 
the barn, 115 ; hall or court- 
room, 115; the Royal Arms, 

Berners, Lord, 80 

Bethnal Green Museum, exhibi- 
tion at, 275 

Bickleigh, 83 

Biggar, Mr., 251 

Billiards, prohibition of, 78 




Birds' Preservation Bill, in com- 
mittee, 216 

Birmingham, riots at, 61 

Bittern, the, 99 

Bletchley station, 261 

Bletsoe, Lord St. John of, xvii 

Blisworth station, 59 

Bloxham, Matthew, 45 ; in the 
witness-box, 47 

Blundell's School, 83, 84 

Boat-race, Oxford and Cam- 
bridge, 253 

Bolton Abbey, 259 

Booth, 140 

Mr. Charles, his scheme of 
universal gratuitous pensions, 
254 note 

Tom, 298 
Borrowdale, xlvii 

Boughton, Sir Theodosius, his 
body exhumed, 39 

Bowness, 196 

Bo wring, Sir John, 219 

Boyce, 30 

Bradlaugh, Mr., elected for North- 
ampton, 307 ; refuses to take 
the oath, 308 

Braintree case, 117 

Brassey, Mr., 131 

Bread, home-made, 13, 50 

Brentford, 8 

Bridgewater House, meeting at, 

Bright, Mr. John, 40, 187, 313 

Bristol, riots at, 19, 61 

Brixworth Union, inspection of, 
291 ; Poor Law administration, 

Broome, Johnny, 74 

Brougham, Henry, Lord Chan- 
cellor, 19 

Brown, Mr., 16 

Brownsover, 46 

Broxbourne, 79 

Bryce, Rfc. Hon. James, his tri- 
bute on Albert Pell, xli-xlviii, 
xxxiii ; friendship with, 286, 287 

Buck Inn, 260 

Buckland Monachorum, 267 

Bungaree, 74 
Burghley, Lord, 307 
Burke, Mr., murdered, 314 
Bury, Canon, 286 

Rev. William, Rector of 
Hazelbeech, xxxiii, xl, 244 note, 
293, 295, 307, 315 

Butlin, Mrs., her death, 307 
Butter-making, 120 
Buxton, baths at, 297 

Sir Thomas, 296 
Byng, Mr., 8 

Cactuses, dwarf, cultivation of, 270 
Caird, his series of articles in The 

Times, 140 
Calverley, Mary, on the Poor Law 

administration in Brixworth 

Union, 356 
Cam, the, 65, 98, 354 
Cambridge, Duke of, 79 

Trinity College, 69 
Canada, emigration to, 221 
Cardigan, Lord, 128 

Carlton Terrace, meetings at, 

229, 253 
Cattle Diseases Bill, 297 

droving to London, 60 

plague, outbreak of, 198 ; ap- 
pointment of a Royal Com- 
mission, 199 ; measures for the 
suppression, xviii, 199 ; meet- 
ings, 200, 201, 293 ; deputation, 
201 ; result of the Diseases 
Prevention Act, 202 

Gaunt, Ben, 74 

Cavendish, Lord Frederick, 236 ; 

Chief Secretary for Ireland, 

314 ; murdered, 314 
Cay ley, Mr., Senior Wrangler, 71 
Chalk Farm, 3 
Chamberlain, Mr. Joseph, his 

parliamentary '' nostrums," 

253-55 ; views on Protection, 

xxiv, xxxvii, li, 254 
Champagne, drinking, 231 
Channel Tunnel works at Dover, 

lhaplin, Henry, 251, 282, 315 



Charity Organisation Society, 
meeting at Leicester, 289 

Chartist demonstration, 147 ; 
riots, precautions against, 148 

Chesterton, 78 

Child labour, employment of, 141 

Cholera, outbreak of, 25 

Chudleigh, 84 

Church Congress at Nottingham, 

proposed Disestablishment and 
Disendowment of the Irish, 
206 ; meeting, 208-10 ; re- 
storation, 117, 166; services, 
11, 116 

Churchill, Lord Randolph, 249 
City Guilds, Royal Commission 

on, 314 
Clarke, Dr. Adam, 8 

Ernest, his Prefatory note on 
" The Making of the Land in 
England," 325 

Clough, Arthur, 183 
Coaches, 29 ; drivers, 30 
Coercion Bill for Ireland, 315 
Collins, Mr. Jesse, 254 

Tom, 251 

Commons, House of, scenes in the, 
282-85, 308 

Congleton, 50 

Connington estate, 343-45 

Cons, Miss, 295 

Conspiracy Bill, 217 

"Constables' Rate," meaning of 
the term, 127 

Coope, Mr., 235, 307 

Copestake, Mr., 263 

Cornwall, 177 

Corrib Lough, 224 

Cottages, model, 241 ; rents, 242 

Cottenham Common, 73 

Coventry, 50 

Cowdung or wall-fruit, use of, 
for fuel, 164 

Cox, David, 14 

Cross, Lord, 72 

Mr., Home Secretary, deputa- 
tion to, 279 
Crowder, A. G., xxxiii, 286 ; his 

administration of the Poor Law 
in St. George-in-the-East, 286 
note ; at Leicester, 289 ; his 
interest in the Blue Brigade of 
Shoe-blacks, 290 

Curwen, 25 

Curzon, Lord, 129 

Davis, driver of the Quicksilver 

coach, 30 

Dean, Forest of, 19 
Deer-stalking, 180-84 
Denman, George, 69, 72 
Denny Abbey, 73 
Derg, Lough, 225 
Dering, Sir Edward, 80 
Devon, North, 177 
Dicky, the Skye terrier, stolen, 

160 ; mode of recovering, 161 
Dingwall, 4 

Disraeli, Mr., 80, 229, 285, 287 ; 
his speeches on agriculture, 
233 ; returned for Bucking- 
hamshire, 234 
Distress, Society for the Relief of, 

founded, 267 
Djeck, Mdlle., 33 
Dombu, Elev, 296 
Donovan, Mr., 39 
Dotterels, their inquisitiveness, 

Doyle, Dick, his illustrations of 

Mr. Pepys, his Diary, 60 
Drought of 1870, sufferings from, 

233, 252 
Dublin, 223 
Ducks, method of catching, 98 ; 

escape of, 159 ; retaken,, 160 
Dunchurch, 26, 50 ; races at, 37 
Dunstable, 27, 64 
Dunvegan Castle, 233, 309 
Dyke, Sir William, 302 

Earith, 65, 98 

Eastern Counties Railway, 78 
Eden Hall, 49, 196 
Edgbaston, 62 

Edmunds, Mr., his discovery of 
early editions of Shakespeare, 277 



Education Bill, 252, 289 

Elcho, Lord, 294 

Election, polling for an, 7 ; state- 
ment of expenses, 203, 204 ; 
General, preparations, 204 ; 
canvassing, 204-11 ; meeting, 

General, of 1880, 306 
Electricity, supposed influence on 

agriculture, 169 
Elleray, 196 
Ellman, 140 
Elstree, 3 
Ely, see of, 95 
Emigration to Canada, 221 
Enclosure Act of 1845, 95 
Exeter, 83 

Telegraph Coach, 54 
Exmoor, sale at, 177 
Exmouth, 56 

Fair, humours of the, 178 
Famine, Irish, of 1847, 81, 145; 

number of deaths from, 226 
Farm servants, 105-11 ; buildings 

112; size, 121 
Farmers' Club, meetings at the, 

287, 313 

Farming, method of, 87 
Farms, employment of children, 


Fawcett, Professor, 96 
Fenny Stratford, 49 
Fens, the, 64 ; farming in, 94 ; 

birds, 96, 101 ; fish, 97, 101 ; 

bittern, 99 ; snipe-shooting, 

99-101 ; traces of prehistoric 

man, 102, 108 ; aquatic flora, 

103 ; draining, 109 
Fielding, " Tom Jones," 9 
Finchley Common, 3 
Fish, method of capturing, 97 
Fitzroy, Major, 294 
Fitzwilliam, Charles, 287 
Flora, aquatic, of the Fen country, 

" Fly be sky," meaning of the 

term, 80 note 
Food, taxes on, 81 

Football at Cambridge, 70 
Forster, Rt. Hon. William Edward, 

274, 313 ; his Education Bill, 

252 ; views on outdoor relief, 

289 ; resignation, 314 
Fountains Abbey, ruins of, 262 
" Fourth Party," members of the, 

Fowler, Mr., 286, 287 

Mr. Jack, 233 

Wm., 313 
Fox, General, 56 
Fox-hunting, 127 ; cost of, 127 
France, outbreak of war with 

Prussia, 253 
Free Trade, views on, xxlv, 

xxxvi, xlv, li, 57,206, 316-20 
Friendly Societies, meeting of, 281 
Fuel, mode of using, 163 

Game Bill, 306 
Gearstones Inn, 261 
George I., 2 

III., 2 

St. George-in-the-East, xxviii, 
150, 265 ; administration of the 
Poor Law in, 286 note ; meetings 
of the Board of Guardians, 289 ; 
condition of the courts, 313 ; 
outdoor relief policy, 356 

Giffen, Sir Robert, xxvi 

Gilbert, Sir Henry, 82, 175 

Gilpin, Mr., 255 

Gipsies, preservation of, 12 

Gladstone, Mr., xxiv, li ; his 
views on the Disestablishment 
and Disendowment of the 
Irish Church, 206 ; style of his 
speeches, 215 ; his Irish Land 
Bill, 228, 252 ; interview with 
Albert Pell, xxv, 247-50 

- Mrs., 247 

Godkin, E. L., xxxix 

Godmanchester, 65 

Godwin, " Caleb Williams," 57 

Gordale Scaur, 260 

Gorst, John, 251 

Goschen, Lord, xxiii, 248 ; Presi- 
dent of the Local Government 



Board, 236 ; on the extension 
of the franchise, 295 

Gough, 72 

Granby, Lord, 80 

Grant, Sir Alexander, 303 

Granville, Lord, on rabbit shoot- 
ing, 184 

Grazing, rights of, 95 

Great Eastern Railway, 78 ; un- 
punctuality, 79 ; chairmen, 80 

Greene, Edward, 295 

Grey, Albert, 308 

Grosvenor, Lord Richard, 236, 

Grouse, sport of, 184 

Grunty Fen, 350-55 

Guano, use of, 82 

Gull, Sir William, 288, 295 

Guy's Cliff, 46 

Haldon Hill, 84 

Halford, Elizabeth Barbara, her 
marriage, 139 note ; character- 
istics, 139 note, 140 note ; 
epitaph, xl, 140 note 

Sir Henry, 39, 139 note 
Hamilton George, 307 

Lord George, 308 
Hampstead Heath, proposal to 

level, 302 

Hansom cab, origin of the, 268 
Hanwell asylum, 16 
Harcourt, Sir William Vernon, 

310 ; enters Parliament, 216 
Hardcastle, 302 
Hardwicke, Lord, 63 
Hare and Rabbit Bill, 308 
Harlesden, 7, 293 
Harris, Mr., 16 
Harrow, 7 ; Vale, 87 
Hartington, Lord, 285 ; his Ballot 

Bill, 253 

Hay-making, 89-91 
Haytor, 84 
Hazelbeech, xvii, 162; population, 

123 ; funeral at, xxxix 
Heathcote, J. M., his estate of 

Connington, 343-45 
Hedley, Dr., 296, 316 

Henry VII., 114 

Heygate, W., 307 

Hicks-Beach, Sir M., 314 

Hill, Miss Octavia, 243, 248 note ; 

her meetings with Albert Pell, 

294, 295 
Hippisley, 25 
Holkham estate, 345-47 
Holy Island, 227 
Honister, 196 
Hooker, Sir Joseph, 256 
Hope, Mr. Beresford, 217, 251 
Horse-dealing, characteristics of, 

Hoskyns, Wren, " The Chronicles 

of a Clay Farm," 140 
Hotonia, or water primrose, 103 
Hounslow Heath, 3 
Howard, Mr., xxxiv 
Hoyle, Mr. William, letter on Mr. 

Mechi's method of farming, 299 
Hudson, George, the Railway 

King, 80 

" Hundred-foot Washes," 98 
Hunt, G. Ward, 183, 212 
Huxtable, 82, 140 

Impostors, 155-58, 169-72 

Ingleton, 260 

Inkerman, 180 

Insane, treatment of the, 16 

Ireland, famine of 1847, 81, 145 ; 

number of deaths from, 226 ; 

visit to, 222 ; priests, 223 ; 

farming in, 225 ; cattle, 225 ; 

outrages, 226-28 ; Land Bill, 

228, 252 ; Coercion Bill, 315 
Isham, Sir Charles, xvii; his library 

at Lamport Hall, 277 ; sufferings 

from rheumatism, 297 
Isham, Lady, li, 277, 297 
Islington, 27 
St. Ives, 65 

Jack-snipe, sport of, 184 
Jackson, Mr., 154 
James, Lady, 248 note 
Sir Walter, 248 note 
Jenkinson, Sir George, 229 



Jervaulx Abbey, 262 

Jessel, Sir George, 293 

Jews, their characteristics, xvi, 269 

St. John, Margaret Letitia Matilda, 
xvii, xli 

Jones, Mr., his opinion on out- 
door relief, 289 ; paper on, 290 

Kenilworth Castle, 46 

Kensington Gravel Pits, 6 

Kiswick, 196 

Kilda, St., 232 ; customs, 232 

Killaloe, 226 

Kilmuir, 233 

Kilsby Tunnel, 46 

King, Dr. Bryan, 150, 265 ; con- 
dition of his Church, 151 ; 
resigns his living, 152 

King's Lynn, 80, 98 

Kingsley, Charles, 76 

Knight, Mr., 177 

Knightley, 140 

Labouchere, Mr. , elected for North- 
ampton, 307 

Labourers' fare, 104 ; hours of 
labour, 141 

Lakes, the, xlvii, 196, 315 

Land in England, the Making of 
the, xvii, 327-55 

Land Bill, Irish, 228, 252 

Land's End, 83, 84 

Lawes, Sir John Bennet, xxiv, his 
experimental farm at Botham- 
sted, 82, 173, 299; his otters, 
138 ; study of chemistry, 140 ; 
method of investigation, 173, 
341 ; skill in salmon-fishing, 174 ; 
result of his investigations, 175 

Lawson, Sir Wilfrid, 310 

Leamington, 46 

Leavesden, inspection of the 
asylum at, 289 

Lee, Dr., 24 

Leeds, 196 

Leicester, Charity Organisation 
Society meeting at, 289 

Earl of, his estate at Holkham, 

Letters, cost of, 18 

Leyburn, 261 ; church service at, 

Licensing Boards Bill, amend- 
ment on, 288 

Lichfield, 50 

Lord, 154 

Liebig, his address, 165 ; opinion 
on the value of mineral manures, 

Lime, superphosphate of, pre- 
paration, 173 

Lincoln, Abraham, xxiv, xlvi, his 
characteristics, 186 ; assassin- 
ated, 190 

Poor Law conference at, 

Linton, 259 

Liston, 33 

Littleport, 351 

Liverpool and Manchester Bail- 
way, 58 

Lochmaddy, 233 

London Birmingham Bailway, 
construction of, 44, 58 

London, East, views on poverty 
in, 247, 249 

Parochial Charities, Boyal 
Commission on, 301, 306 

Poor Law conference at, 289 
Longley, Sir Henry, 236, 282 
Longwood, xxxix 

Lonsdale, Lord, 184, 229 
Lopes, Sir Massey, 259, 267 
Louis Napoleon, 148 
Lowe, Mr. C. B., letter from Mr. 
Pell on Free Trade, 321 

Mr. Bobert, 233 ; a member 
of the Boyal Commission on the 
cattle plague, 199 ; his drastic 
remedy, 199 

Lowestoft, 198 

Lowther, Jim, 251 

Lucas of Lutterworth, the veter- 
inary, 130 ; his character, 131 ; 
method of treating horses, 132 
dinner to, 133 

Lynmouth, 177 

Lyttelton, Lord, 236 



MacDonald, Sir John, Prime 
Minister of Canada, 303 ; his 
likeness to Disraeli, 303 

MacLeod, Louie MacLeod of, 309 

Reginald MacLeod of, his mar- 
riage, 295 

Magee, Dr., Bishop of Peter- 
borough, xxxviii, 212 ; on the 
value of his training, 213 ; his 
version of " The Irishman's 
Dream," 309 

Mail, the Royal, 27 ; drivers, 30 

Malham Water, 260 

Manchester, Bishop of, 282 

Mann, Mr., 55 

Manners, Lord John, 229, 230 

Maree Loch, 4 

Maristow, 267 

Market Harborough, 162 ; 
political meeting at, 307 

Martin, his billiard tables, 78 

St. Mary Town, 85 

Matthews, Charles, 32, 52 

Maule, Judge, 46 

" Mawkin," meaning of the word, 

McCombie, Mr., 212 

Mechi, Mr., inventor of the razor 
strop, 169 ; his views on agri- 
culture, 298 

Medical clubs, establishment of, 

Merchant Taylors School, system 
of punishment, 32 

Merthyr Tydvil, 19 

Metropolitan Asylums Board, 
meetings, 282, 299, 301 

Poor Law Guardians' Associa- 
tion, Chairman of the, 302 

Mickies, the Irish, their character- 
istics, 144 

Middleham Castle, 262 

Milk, method of scalding, 84 ; 
drinking, 231 

Mint on, 150 

Mole-catchers, 127 

Montagu House, 3 

Moody and Sankey in London, 

Moore, Mr. George, 234, 262 ; his 

philanthropy, 234 
Morgan, Mr. O., 287 
Morley, Mr. Samuel, 222 
Myers, his building yard, 149 

Napoleon I., Emperor, his death, 2 

Naseby Church, restoration, 269 

Navvies, fights with, 45 ; settle- 
ment of, 260 

Newdegate, Mr., 129 

Newgate Prison, 16 ; the prisoners, 

Newmarket, races at, 73 

Norfolk, 198 

Northampton, xlvii, 162 ; Assize 
Court, 46 ; Cattle Plague Com- 
mittee meeting at, 293 ; Poor 
Law conference, 286 

Northampton Mercury, article on 
Albert Pell, xlviii-lii 

Northamptonshire, opposition to 
railways in, 59 

Northbrook, Lord, telegram from, 

* 287 

Northcote, Agnes, her marriage, 

Sir Stafford, 303 

Northern Pacific Railway, junc- 
tion of the two sections, 316 

Nottingham Castle, 19 

Church Congress at, 256 

Olmsted, Frederick Law, his works 
on slavery, xxvii, 188 

Olympic Theatre, performance of 
" The Prince of Siam " at, 33-6 

Opie, Mrs., 18 

Osborne, Mr. Bernal, 255 

Otters, 137 ; their characteristics, 

Ouse River, 65, 98 

Out-door Relief policy, 286, 356 ; 
views on, 289, 290 

Overstone, Lord, 312 

Owl, The, on the meeting of con- 
servatives at Carlton Terrace, 



Oxen, ploughing with, 134 
Oxford and Cambridge boat-race, 

Paddington, 2 

Paget, T. T., 306 

Pain, Messrs., the pyrotechnists, 

Parliament, Houses of, 14 ; meet- 
ing, 212; opening, 214, 293; 
dissolution, 306 

St. Paul's Cathedral, 14 ; thanks- 
giving service at, 258 

Paupers, increase in the number 
of, 236 

Peacock, 77 

Peel, Lord, 236 

Sir Robert, 312 

Pegwell Bay, 297 

Pell, Albert, characteristics, xiii, 
xix, xxviii, xli-xlviii, xlix ; 
mode of telling stories, xiii- 
xv ; ancestors xv ; appearance, 
xxiii, xliv ; political views, xxiv, 
xliv ; attitude towards doctors, 
xxix ; and nurses, xxx ; knack 
of inventing phrases, xxxi ; 
religious views, xxxii ; fondness 
for animals, xxxiv ; uncon- 
ventional frankness, xxxv ; 
hatred of humbug, xxxviii ; his 
birth, 1 ; on the changes of 
eighty years, 1-5 ; childhood, 
5 ; at school, 6 ; his father, 
xvi, 7 ; at church, 1 1 ; his regard 
for gipsies, 12 ; country home, 
13 ; his sister, 14 ; uncles, 14, 
56 ; neighbours, 17 ; on the cost 
of tea and letters, 18 ; at Rugby, 
21 ; punishment of caning, 22 ; 
attacks of illness, 24, 38, 295-97, 
303, 305 ; at the theatre, 33-37 ; 
his first reading of Pickwick, 
xxvii, 41 ; bathing, 43 ; fights 
with the navvies, 45 ; death of 
his father, 48 ; at the coronation 
of Queen Victoria, 53 ; spends a 
night in the Park, 54 ; on the 
Exeter Telegraph coach, 54-6 ; 

at Exmoor, 56 ; at a private 
tutor, 58 ; at Birmingham, 61 ; 
in the Fen country, 64 ; life at 
Trinity College, Cambridge, 69- 
77 ; establishes football, 70 ; 
walking tour in Devonshire, 
82, 267 ; on Sampson Island, 
85 ; takes a farm, 87 ; member 
of the Royal Agricultural 
Society, 94, 173 ; shooting 
snipe, 99 ; farm servants, 103, 
119, 142; his hunting friends, 
127-30 ; method of ploughing 
with oxen, 134 ; marriage, 139 ; 
costume, 139 ; enrolled special 
constable, 148 ; at Hazelbeech, 
162 ; draining his farm, 163 ; 
becomes churchwarden and fills 
other offices, 164 ; attends 
Liebig's address, 165 ; holiday 
excursions, 177 ; deerstalking, 
181-84 ; his rifle, 181 ; first 
speech in Parliament, 187 ; 
interview with John Bright, 

187 ; views on slavery, xxviii, 

188 ; on the assassination of 
Abraham Lincoln, 190; starts a 
Provident Society, 191, 273 ; 
first interview with the Prince of 
Wales, 194 ; illuminations on his 
marriage, 195 ; number of farms 

195 ; visit to the English Lakes, 

196 ; on the outbreak of the 
cattle plague, xviii, 198 ; views 
on the necessity of slaughtering, 
199 ; meetings, 200 ; deputa- 
tion to Lord Russell, 201 ; re- 
sult of the Cattle Diseases Pre- 
vention Act, 202 ; statements 
of election expenses, 203 ; can- 
vassing, 204-7 ; views on Free 
Trade, xxiv, xxxvi, xlv, li, 
206, 317-20; at an election 
meeting, 208-10 ; elected M.P., 
211; takes the oath, 212; 
at the opening of Parlia- 
ment, 214, 293 ; on the Com- 
mittee of the Birds' Preserva- 
tion Bill, 216 ; management of 



the emigration fund, 220-22 ; 
visit to Ireland, 222 ; at a 
Conservative meeting in Carlton 
Terrace, 229 ; Parliamentary 
acquaintances, 230 ; his habit 
of eating and drinking, 231 ; 
on the reform of the Poor Law 
administration, xix, li, 236, 
278, 289, 354; inquiry into 
cases, xxi, 238-41, 244-46 ; 
interview with Mr. Gladstone, 
xxv, 247-50 ; views on poverty 
in East London, 247, 249 ; 
at the Church Congress, Not- 
tingham, 256 ; sale of farms, 
257, 289 ; work in Parliament 
259 ; in Yorkshire, 259 ; at 
Leyburn, 261 ; on the origin of 
the hansom cab, 268 ; estab- 
lishes medical clubs, 280 ; ex- 
ample of a day's engagements, 
282 ; nominated guardian for 
the union of St. George-in-the- 
East, 286 ; Poor Law con- 
ferences, 286, 289, 290 ; dinner 
at the Speaker's, 287 ; seconds 
the amendment on the Licens- 
ing Boards Bill, 288 ; at the 
institute of the Blue Brigade of 
Shoe-blacks, 290 ; inspection 
of Brixworth Union, 291 ; 
meetings with Miss Octavia 
Hill, 294, 295 ; attacks of 
sciatica, 295-97, 303, 305 ; at 
Buxton, 297 ; on the Cattle 
Diseases Bill, 297 ; at the farm 
of Mr. Mechi, 298 ; of Mr. 
Lawes, 299 ; letter to The 
Times, on farming, 299-301 ; 
member of the Royal Commis- 
sion of City Parochial Charities, 
301 ; appointed chairman of 
the Metropolitan Poor Law 
Guardians' Association, 302 ; 
visits to America, xviii, xlvi, 
303, 316 ; interview with 
General Sherman, 304 ; return 
home, 304 ; attack of rheumatic 
fever, 305, 306; elected for 

South Leicestershire, 307 ; 
resolution on compensation 
to Tenants (Ireland) Bill, 
308 ; views on the Rivers 
Flood Bill, 310-12; his Va- 
grancy Bill, 313 ; second read- 
ing, 315 ; paper on Arthur 
Young, 313 ; memoir of him, 
314 ; on the Royal Commission 
on City Guilds, 314 ; accident 
at the Lakes, 315 ; fainting fit 
in the House of Commons, 315 ; 
retires from Parliament, 321, 
322 ; letter to Mr. Lowe, 321 ; 
testimonial, 322 ; paper on 
" the Making of the Land in 
England," xvii, 327-55 ; death, 
xxxix ; funeral, xl ; epitaph, xli 
Pell, Albert Julian, xv 

Elizabeth Barbara, her mar- 
riage, 139 note ; characteristics, 

139 note, 140 note; epitaph, xl, 

140 note 

Sir Albert, Judge of the Court 
of Review in Bankruptcy, 20 
note ; his school days, 32 ; 
death, 48 

Pelly, Sir H., 294 

Penzance, 84 

Persia, Shah of, his visit to Eng- 
land, 275 

" Pest," the village, 67-9 

Peter's, St., London Docks, 153 

Peto & Bett, Messrs., 80 

Pewsey, Vale of, 134 

Phoenix Park murders, 314 

" Pickwick Papers," publication 
of, 41 

" Pin-in-the-candle," meaning of 
the term, 118 

Pinchin & Johnson, Messrs., 253 

" Pinder," duties of the, 66 

Pinner, 6, 15 

- Hill, sale of, 94 

Plimsoll, Mr., his Shipping Bill, 
283 ; conduct in the House of 
Commons, 283-86 

Plough steam, design of, at Read- 
ing, 163 



Poachers, method of dealing with, 

Poor Law administration, the old, 

11 ; reform, xix, 236, 278, 286, 

356; inquiry into cases, 237-41, 

244-46 ; conferences, 286, 289, 

290 ; Amendment Bill, 180, 289, 

Poplar, ship-building yards closed 

at, 220 

Port wine, drinking, 231 
Posting-houses closed, 58 
Poverty in East London, views 

on, 247 
Prehistoric man, traces of, in the 

Fen country, 102, 108 
Price, Bonamy, 23 
Prickett, 72 

Primrose Hill, fireworks on, 180 
Prize-fighting, 73-5 
Provident Societies, 191, 273 
Prussia, outbreak of war with 

France, 253 
Public Health Act of 1875, result, 


Pugin, 149, 150 
Pusey, 140 

Quail-pipe, use of the, 97 
Quails, method of taking, 97 
Queensberry, Lord, 74 
Quicksilver mail, 29 

Rabbit shooting, sport of, 184 

Railway, Eastern Counties, 78 ; 
Great Eastern, 78 ; Liverpool 
and Manchester, 58 ; London 
Birmingham, 44, 58 

Railways, opposition to, 59 

Ramsgate, 297 

Read, Mr. Clare Sewell, xviii, 212, 
298 ; testimonial to, 288 ; his 
visit to America, 303 ; motion 
of inquiry into the depression of 
agriculture, 316 

Reade, Mr. Philip, 225 

Red House, Battersea, 3 

Lion, 7 

Reform Bill, 19 

Richards, Westley, his method of 
protecting his gun-manufactory, 

Richmond, 262 

Duke of, 140, 294 ; chairman 
of the Royal Commission on 
Agriculture, 303 

Rick-burning, 63 

Rifle Volunteer review at Al- 

thorpe Park, 185 
Riley, Mr., 295 
Rinderpest, outbreak of, 198 
Riots, number of, 19 
Ripon, 262 
Rivers Conservancy and Floods 

Bill, 310 ; views on, 310-12 ; 

withdrawn, 313 
Roads, method of mending, 135, 

162, 165 
Ross, George, 181 

Major, 181 
Rosthwaite, 196 
Rothamsted, experimental farm 

at, 82, 173, 299 

" Roundsmen," their character- 
istics, 1 1 

Royal Agricultural Society, 94, 
173, 282 ; journal of the, 323 

Royston, 31, 63 

Rugby school, 21 ; irregular 
habits, 39 ; formation of houae 
libraries, 40, 47 ; bathing, 43 

Cattle Show, 290 

Russell, Lord, deputation on the 
suppression of the cattle plague, 

Russia, war of 1854, 180 
Rutland, Duke of, 80, 230 

Saberton, Tom, 296 
Salisbury, Lord, 80, 287, 313 

Plains, 29 
Sampson Island, 85 
Sandon, Lord, 289, 308 
Sanitation, method of, 242 
Scariff, 226 

Scilly Islands, 84 
Scott, Gilbert, 150 
Sebastopol, 180 



Sedgwick, 77 

Settle Cattle Fair, 196 

Shakespeare, discovery of early 
editions of, 276 

Sheep washing, 121 ; character- 
istics of Welsh, 92 

Sheppard, Jack, 3, 7 

Sheriff, Lawrence, 46 

Sherbrooke, Lord, 233 

Sherman, General, 304 

Shipbuilding yards at Poplar, 
closed, 220 

Shipping Bill, 283 

Shipton, Mr., 297 

Shoe-blacks, Blue Brigade of, 290 

Simonds Bath, 177 

Simpson, 31 

Skating on Cottenham Common, 73 

Skipton, 259 

Skye, famine in, 146 

Slavery, 186, 188 ; prophecy on 
the Abolition of, 10 ; views on, 
188 ; result of, 189 

" Slumming," 267 

Small holdings, result of, 193 

Smelts, size of, 101 

Smith, Mr., proctor of Caius, 77 

Mr. Augustus, 86 

T. Carrington, his amend- 
ment on the proposed inquiry 
into the depression of agri- 
culture, 316 

William H., 294, 308 

of Deanston, his method of 
under-draining, 140 

Smithfield Market, 60 
Smollett, " Humphry Clinker," 9 
Snipe-shooting, 99 
Somerset, 177 
Southall, 178 
Sparke, Bishop, 95 
Spencer, 140 

- Lord, xlv, 185, 194, 286, 293, 
303 ; in Ireland, 314 

Robert, 307 
Spring, Tom, 74 

Squarey, Mr. E. P., his article on 

" Farm Capital," 338 
Squirrel, the flying, 158 

Stalbridge, Lord, 236 

Stamford, 29 

Stanley, Bishop, anecdote of, 79 

Dean, 9 
Stansfield, Mr., 249 

Star and Garter, Richmond dinner 
at, 298 

Steam plough, design of, at 
Reading, 163 

Stevens, Mr., 237 note 

" Stockingers," or frame-work 
knitters, 58 

Stony Stratford, 27 

Stratiotes or water-soldier, 103 

Sudbury Station, 2 

Sugar Loaf Inn, 64 

Sullivan, Mr., 285 

Sumner, Professor, 328 note 

Sweet-marten, 139 

Swing, Captain, 4, 63 ; his ex- 
ploits, 19 

Tamar, the, 267 

Taunton, 82 

Tavy, the, 267 

Taxes on food, 81 

Tea, price of, 18, 81 

Tenant right, question of, 279 

(Ireland) Bill, Compensation 
to, resolution on, 308 

Thistlewood, the conspirator, 2 

Thomson, Anstruther, 130 

Thresfield, 260 

Threshing, method o^ 87 

Thurtell, 3 

Thynne, Lord Henry, 302 

Time, method of marking, 89 

Times, The, letters to, xxxvi, 

Tipperary, 224 

Tiptree Hall, 298 

Tithe Barn, 113 

Tiverton, 83 

Toast, buttered, method of mak- 
ing, 50 

Tober-na-Vuolich, Bothie of, 183 

Tocqueville, De, extract from his 
"History of Democracy in 
America," 329 




Tomalin, " Cap," 127 
Topham, Mr., 129 
Torquay, xxxv 

" Torque," discovery of a, 108 
Torr, 140 

Mr. John, 305 
Tring, 170 

Trinity College, Cambridge, 69 
Trollope, Anthony, 18 

Mrs., 18 
Turner, Mr., 282 
Typhoid, appearance of, 242 

Ulster, 221 

United States, visits to the, xviii, 

xlvi, 303, 316 
Ure Bridge, 262 
Utricularia, or bladder-wort, 103 

Vagrancy Bill, 313 ; second read- 
ing, 315 
Vaugfean, Dr. Charles, 256 

Judge, 257 

Vestris, Madame, 33, 36 ; im- 
pressions of, 52 

Victoria Embankment, opened, 

Queen, her coronation, 53 
Vinegar, mode of making, 18 
Vowe, Mr., 127 

Wales, Prince of, his marriage, 
194 ; illness, 257 ; thanks- 
giving service, 258 

Wallace, Sir Richard, his exhibi- 
tion at Bethnal Green Museum, 

Walpole, Horace, extract from his 
Letters, 1 

Warwick Castle, 46 

Wash, the, 65 

Washington, 303 

Waterford, Marquis of, 38 

Watford, 7 

Watkin, Sir Edward, 312 

Watson, Dr., 231 

Weare, 3 

Webb, Mr. Jonas, 94 


Webster, Dick, 127 
Welby, Mr., 282 
Wellington, Duke of, 53, 148 

Riding School, banquet at, 299 
Welsh sheep, characteristics, 92 
Westcott, Professor, 256 
Whewell, 77 

Whitehall Tunnel, 82 
Whittlesea Mere, 12 
Whyte-Melville, Major, 129 
Wilberforce, William, 8 ; his 

prophecy on the Abolition of 

Slavery, 10 

Wilburton, xvii, 94, 296 
Willesden, 7 
Wilson, Jacob, 298 
Windermere, 196 
Windsor Castle, 14 
Winn, Mrs., 287 
- Rowland, 302, 312, 315 
Woburn Abbey, 3 
Woodpark, County Clare, 225 
Wool manufactures, British, mat 

ing, 313 
Wychwood Forest,cost of clearing, 


Yellowstone Park, 304 
Yorkshire, 259 
Young, Arthur, paper on, 
memoir of, 314 

Zoological Gardens, 158 


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